The Yoruba Council of Elders, pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, and a youth organisation, Yoruba Socio-Cultural Association have blamed the executive arm of government and the National Assembly for the suspension of work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited, which handles the expansion of Section II of the Lagos-Ibadan highway, in a letter dated June 2, 2017, called the attention of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to the worsening financial obligations to the project.
It stated that the letter was a notice of its intention to suspend work on the project over an N8.9bn debt. The company had since stopped work on the project.
The Federal Government on Sunday said Julius Berger Nigeria Plc had also suspended work on the Section 1 of the road project.
Afenifere, in its reaction, blamed the Federal Government for the abandonment of the Lagos-Ibadan highway project by the contractors.
It described the development as a clear case of negligence, stressing that the government’s action was unpardonable in view of the number of lives being lost to auto crashes on the road.
Afenifere’s publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, said it was a shame that the government could not adequately fund the only major project it was executing in the South-West.
The group pointed out that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway served the whole country and not just the South-West region, adding that the government ought to show concern for the number of lives lost to auto crashes on the road every day.
It said, “It would count heavily against this administration unless the right thing is done for the contractors to go back to site.
“People are dying on that road daily and for the government not to be concerned is clear negligence and it is unpardonable.”
Afenifere carpeted the National Assembly for reducing funding for the project and canvassed the restructuring of the country to enable state governments to handle all road projects within their jurisdictions.
“I am sure if the road is within the jurisdiction of the state government, the people would have been on their neck to repair it and that is why we said the current federal system cannot work and it’s not working,” the group stated.
Also, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, said it was unfortunate that the contractors handling the highway left the site due to lack of funding.
Falae, a former finance minister said the Federal Government should find an urgent solution to the problem, noting that the road was the only major road that linked Lagos with other parts of the country.
He said, “It is very unfortunate if the minister (Babatunde Fashola) says there is no money to continue with the project because this is the major road that links Lagos State with other parts of the country.
“I will only appeal to the Federal Government to find a solution to the problem. The road is more useful to Nigerians than (for it) to be abandoned. I hope something will be done soonest on the matter.”
On his part, the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajidesaid that the National Assembly must be blamed for the suspension of work by the two contractors working on the expressway.