The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, revealed on Thursday that the problem of insufficient funds and the increase in the price of construction materials were the only problems that delayed the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
This was when he blamed the previous administration for neglecting critical infrastructure.
Fashola made the disclosure when he appeared on the Mainland Television show Your View, where he said the security barriers had been returned to the site due to the volume of vehicles on the road, while pleading for patience and cooperation with contractors.
He added that the last mile of the project would be finished in the first quarter of 2023.
He said: “Let me first thank the travelers who use that road, a major transportation artery in Nigeria for their understanding. This road could have been built between 1999 and 2015 but it was not. This trail is in better shape than what we inherited and is now in the last mile of completion.
“The main source of delay first is funding.
“Remember at one point this path was completely removed from the budget and I was involving the National Assembly until the president revealed the presidential infrastructure development fund which was essentially LNG investments from Nigeria and funds recovered from outside Nigeria. .
“So when people talk about corruption and anti-corruption, a president who is going to recover stolen funds and invest it for his people is the real anti-corruption as far as I am concerned.
“In the security barriers, they are there because we are building through a major transportation artery. Our latest traffic count indicates that at least N40,000 vehicles use that road from the Lagos end to the Sagamu end.
“After Sagamu, it drops to 22,000, so it has to be managed to ensure the safety of construction workers.
“We shut down work on the site in December because construction companies traditionally shut down in mid-December and resume in mid-January.
“We still hope to finish the project in the first quarter.”
When asked about solutions to reduce traffic jams, he said: “You can’t expect to drive fast in a construction zone, there will be a bit of a slowdown and it’s in that slowdown that ‘how we behave’ becomes very important.”
Speaking further, the former Governor of Lagos revealed that the construction of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway had received funding of N7 billion from the new Sukuk bonds, ensuring that the pains of Ogun residents will be eased soon.
“I hear the concern about Lagos-Abeokuta (Highway) and there are people we should ask why Lagos-Abeokuta (Highway) was not built.
“I can categorically say that all roads leading to and from Lagos as Nigeria’s strategic business capital are receiving one form of attention or another.
“Again, the contractors had left the site when we arrived and we revived and we are putting the Sukuk on it and the last Sukuk is around N7 billion. So, we don’t have all the money to build it. I understand that there is more pain on the Ogun side, but the work on the Lagos side continues because the contractor is building from Lagos to Ogun.
“In a matter of weeks, I am hopeful that we will have a more satisfactory financial solution not only for Lagos-Abeokuta but also for Akure and Ado Ekiti and once that is done, whether we are in government or not, those will be built. roads. ,” he said.
On the need for tolls on some roads, he stated that it was a necessary business venture that would increase revenue without sacrificing the quality of service delivered to travelers.
He stated: “First, we have to understand that out of the more than 200,000 kilometers, the total number of roads that would be under the government-approved toll policy will be only five percent, so it is not that high of a volume of roads”. roads.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Highway was built as a toll road from day one and we want to maintain the quality of service.
“I think it makes sense in terms of traffic volume that roads can be subject to trade policies, not only to increase revenue but also to provide quality service to Nigerians.
“Tolling itself is a business in all parts of the world. We have to keep opening the economy to these things.
“We cannot stay with agriculture, oil, technology and all that. We have to open up more economic opportunities.”
In addition, the minister announced his retirement from public service, stating that he had had a great privilege at the head of government for 21 years and wanted to take a break.