Murtala Muhammed Airport road: Earnestly waiting for Lagos to commence work
Baring any last minute hitches or change of heart, in about five days from today (that is September 1st), the process of wiping away the national shame, which the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, Lagos State, has represented for some years now, would get underway.
For a country so endowed like Nigeria, leaving the gateway into the nation’s commercial capital by air in this condition for lengthy periods can only point at one thing- stark failure of governance.
On the other hand, development experts are of the view that the prolonged dilapidated condition of the road, is also a sharp reflection of the chronic lack of appreciation of aesthetics by managers of the nation’s infrastructure.
They contend that first-time visitors to the country would no doubt be shocked by the sheer lack of national sense of pride exhibited by managers of critical national facilities, compared to other countries.
Despite its location and strategic importance to the country, this all-important federal road has remained a classic symbol of neglect.
The cyclic pattern of the devastation over time, often leaves many wondering what is always on the Federal Government’s mind, when at regular intervals its agencies, especially the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) carries out shabby repairs that make little or no meanings at all.
Touched by the pathetic state of the road, former president Goodluck Jonathan, reportedly awarded a contract for it to be face-lifted and expanded. This was during the tenure of incumbent Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), as governor of Lagos State. Until Jonathan and Fashola left office in May 2015, the contract never took off.
Towards the end of last year, the road started receiving some kind of “attention,” courtesy of the state government. In the endeavour, portions of the road were grassed and flowers planted on the broad median. The beautification, never covered the entire length of the road. It was, however, complemented by the erection of streetlights as part of efforts to light up Lagos Metropolis, even though the streetlights are working in fits and starts.
Even though parts of the road were festooned with flowers and grasses, major structural issues including poor drainage system, and gaping potholes still dot sections of the road.
On their part, car dealers and commercial three wheelers have illegally taken over large parts of the setbacks, which they have converted to car markets and motor parks respectively.
As one approaches the airport, upholstery makers also cordon off a massive portion of the setback, which they have converted to a sprawling upholstery village. Between them and the road, are water-worn ravines, which get worse with each passing rain.
At about the time the Lagos State-sponsored window-dressing was going on, the Federal Controller of Works in the state, Godwin Eke, in a telephone interview with The Guardian said, “the road is under procurement for 2017 budget, meaning that if the budget comes through, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and would commence work on the road.”
Asked to hazard a guess regarding when actual construction work would commence, Eke said: “I cannot assure you of the particular month construction work will commence because the road is under procurement. Until the procurement process is completed, it would be difficult to say when work would commence.
“I would advise people to be patient with the government because they are going to enjoy the road once construction work is completed,” he said.
That appeal for patience and understanding with the Federal Government may no longer be necessary as matters stand.
Until recently, some residents, business owners and motorists were perplexed at the Federal Government’s lack of sincere efforts towards improving the aesthetics of the road, as well as make riding on it a pleasant experience.
Some of these people only heaved a sigh of relief after the Federal Government recently handed the Lagos State government permission to reconstruct the road, a development that did not come without its shade of political drama.
Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, in May this year granted permission to the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led state government to embark on a total reconstruction of road from Oshodi.
Describing the approval as a 50th birthday gift to the state, Ambode said the state was very appreciative of Osinbajo’s “good gesture for acceding to our request, which is not only very timely, but a very heartwarming one. Posterity will never forget this genuine developmental action.”
The governor also described the approval as a further demonstration of the determination of the present administration to ensure the effectiveness of the Executive Order on improving the Ease of Doing Business recently signed by the acting president.
Earlier in the year, Ambode said: “The road linking Oshodi to the International Airport, you would all agree with me is a national embarrassment… In the spirit of the regeneration and urbanisation that this administration has set out to achieve, we believe strongly that the image that is exhumed by the decadence of that road must be repaired and we took it upon ourselves to appropriate the 2017 budget that the House of Assembly should approve the total reconstruction of the Airport Road from Oshodi to the international airport.
“The state currently has a design of 10 lanes to come from Oshodi to the international airport with interchange and flyover that would drop you towards the local airport.
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