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I had to be directed by a uniformed Julius Berger staff before I could veer off the road. The Federal Roads Safety Corps, FRSC staff were there and I even thought they would arrest me for contravening the traffic regulation of plying one-way, but they did not,” a motorist who identified himself as Mr. Siaka Mahmoud told Vanguard Metro yesterday.
The chaotic traffic jam on both sides of the ever-busy Oshodi -Apapa expressway, worsened on Tuesday, mainly due to the ongoing reconstruction works on the ever- busy dual carriageway. The Federal Government had after one its Executive Council meetings in August, announced the award of the contract for the reconstruction of Section Two, Phase Two of the expressway to Messrs Julius Berger Plc. Works Minister, Mike Onolememen, an architect, explained that the reconstruction which was awarded at a cost of N15 billion, would be completed in 15 months ( a year and three months).
“The Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is the gateway to Apapa and Tincan Island ports and parts of Trans West African Coastal Highway. It is, therefore, of immense economic importance to the country and the sub-region. The road had virtually collapsed due to age and the damaging effects of heavy axle load vehicles carrying goods to and from the ports,” he said.
Although commuters welcomed the development, they are grieved that the contractor appears to be unconcerned about the numerous man-hours lost in the gridlock. “ They either cut or block the roads without giving motorists a viable alternative,” one of the commuters lamented. According to him, the situation has led motorists and commuters to spend several man- hours in the gridlock at various locations on both sides of the expressway, thereby paralysing commercial activities for businesses operating in the Apapa axis of Lagos.
In fact, some staff of Vanguard Media Limited and other companies in the area who managed to get to their offices earlier in the day, found it difficult driving out at close of work as there was virtually no road. Some of them had to trek long distances in search of commercial transportation or slept in their offices.
Spokesman for the contractors, Mr. Clement Iloba told Vanguard Metro that the inconveniences presently being experienced by motorists are just unavoidable. He stated that the alleged slow pace of work is to avoid doing a shoddy work at the end of the day. Iloba who heads the Corporate Affairs Unit of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, said they are working with a time frame although he refused to disclose what it is nor the actual cost of the project. But he insisted that the company will deliver the road on schedule and in line with the set standard for its projects.
“The pace of work on the road is in order. We are working with a time line. If you say the work should be done at night to allow for free flow traffic during the day, it means our workers will be idle during the day. In any case, we are working both day and night. The problem that is being experienced is because of the peculiar nature of Lagos. Even if a short portion of the road is being done, motorists and commuters on the road must face this problem of traffic jams because of the busy nature of Lagos, particularly the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, “ he said.
“This complaint has often come up whenever construction work is ongoing along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. But what I usually tell people is that they should understand the situation and be patient; when the job is completed, the hardship of the motorists and commuters on the road will become a thing of the past,” Iloba noted.
About N21.2b is being spent by the Federal Government on the rehabilitation of the Section I Phase I and Section I Phase II of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway covering about 16. 5km