L-R: Director of Works for South West, Engr. Adedamola Kuti; Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Tokunbo Talabi; and the Special Adviser, Works and Infrastructure; Engr. Ade Akinsanya during the minister’s visit to the governor on Thursday.
By Nudoiba Ojen
Respite is on the way for commuters plying the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway as the Federal Government on Thursday proposed to jointly rehabilitate the road with its Ogun State counterpart.
The Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, who spoke in Abeokuta during a courtesy call on Ogun State Governor , Prince Dapo Abiodun, while on a tour of federal roads in the state, said the period of bureaucracy in road construction in the country was over.
Umahi noted that if the Federal Government is looking for corporate organisations to get involved in road construction and management, state governments should not be denied the same opportunity.
He spoke in response to Governor Abiodun on the frustration experienced by Ogun and Lagos states during the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to get the road done,
The minister said, “Let me say something about the frustration you had while you and the Lagos State Government wrote to take over the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road. Let me announce to you that it falls under our new programme, Highway Development Management Initiative (HDMI). It is a public-private partnership (PPP) programme.
“People should begin to look at a state as a corporate entity. If you are looking for investors to come and invest on our roads; to construct, to own, to maintain and toll, why shouldn’t a state do that?
“So, on this Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road, I want us to work together, we’ve done 30% of the work. You can own 60%, we own 40% and you can do your portion of the 60%. You can give it to a contractor of your choice.
“I don’t believe in bureaucracy; we cannot reset the economy with the type of bureaucracy we have. If I get your request on this by WhatsApp, I will respond to you immediately. We will handle it under our HDMI.”
The minister spoke on some other federal roads in the state, with some of them under reconstruction.
According to him, the Ikorodu-Sagamu remains about 8 kilometres to be completed, with the deadline for its completion set for November.
Other roads are the Abeokuta-Ajebo road at 21% completed, the overlay of the Ore-Sagamu portion of the Sagamu-Ore-Benin carriageway and the Papalanto to the Benin Republic border, being done by Dangote through the Tax Credit Scheme.
The Minister who also noted that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu was open to any state willing to have a PPP with them, said that the Federal Government is also planning to bring new security initiatives on the highways.
Umahi expressed appreciation to the Ogun State for its commitment to repairing roads in its domain, whether state or federal.
“In Ogun State, nobody is saying this is federal roads, this is state roads. When people are suffering, they don’t understand which one is which. Fix the roads and we can talk about who owns it. Anyone that is shouting and complaining is playing politics,” he said.
Addressing the entourage, Prince Abiodun recalled what he and his colleague in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu went through getting the Federal Government’s permission to take over the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway.
He regretted that despite meeting some of the requirements by the Federal Government, the two states were frustrated, leading to further deterioration of the road.
He said: “I would like to highlight the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, Ota is a city that has earned us the prestigious title of being the industrial capital of Nigeria. It is a city where we share boundaries with Lagos State and you can hardly tell the difference between Ota and Lagos State.
“That road, I think the contract must have been awarded maybe in 2012 or 2010 under the administration of President Obasanjo. Since then, the contract has been subjected to so many reviews.
“When I assumed office, Governor Sanwo-Olu and I went to see President Buhari and we wrote one letter on a joint letterhead requesting for that road to be transferred to us.
“We brought a letter from our bankers. At that point in time, it was probably about N70 billion, saying that this N70 billion that we want to put into the reconstruction of the road.
“Then, there was no minister. We were told that because the road is under contract, what they would like to do is to partner with the states and we said okay, let us sit down, and discuss on the basis of the partnership.
“That road is about 77 kilometres, let us discuss the basis of that partnership, Your Excellency, we made no progress.”
The governor commended the Federal Government for bringing a new lease of life into the way and manner that approvals are given for road construction.
Abiodun expressed the hope that the Federal Government would help to fast-track the reconstruction of the Sagamu end of the Sagamu-Ore road.
“I am hoping that you will be able to help us fast track the construction of Sagamu-Ore road because we as a state government have continued to maintain that road, I am hoping you could use your good office to assist us in ensuring that the road is funded,” he said.