President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday in Shagamu, Ogun State, that federal, states and local governments must collaborate to deliver dividends of democracy to the people, irrespective of party affiliations.
Jonathan made the remarks when he declared open the reconstruction and expansion works on the 127.6 km Lagos-Ibadan dual carriage way sections I and II.
The N167 billion project, to be completed in 48 months, is being handled by Messrs Julius Berger Plc and Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Ltd.
Jonathan said basic infrastructure, particularly roads, whether, they belonged to the federal, states or local governments by classification, is meant for the use and benefit of the generality of all Nigerians.
“All of us belong to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we are free to reside in any part of the country.
“My belief is that, whether a project is delivered by the Federal Government or the state government or local government, what Nigerians need is basic infrastructure.
“Therefore, good partnering by all the tiers of government, federal, states and local governments and good spirited individuals will make us deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.
“And I assure you that we will continue to work together,” he said.
The president said that the Lagos-Ibadan dual carriage way, was one of the busiest and most important roads in the country.
Specifically, he said that with over 250,000 vehicles plying the road daily, “it stands out as the busiest road in Africa’’.
“The road is an important economic artery that connects the nation’s economic nerve centres.
“More than 50 per cent of the economic activities of this country revolve around Lagos and Ogun states, which jointly with Oyo State, host the infrastructure.
“The infrastructure is of great socio-economic importance, not only to Nigeria but also to the people of Africa,” he said.
Jonathan said that following the state of disrepair of the road, the recurrent fatal accident, unprecedented traffic jams and security breaches, government acted in good faith, by entering into partnership with a private investor to deliver the road.
He said that after four years of evident non-performance by the private investor, Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, government, acting in the public interest, terminated the agreement.
“Today I am happy to inform you that we are ready to bequeath to Nigerians, a better and more durable road after 35 years when the first construction was made and commissioned in 1978.
“We are sure this will alleviate the hardship on millions of road users.
“This event reflects government’s commitment to practically and relentlessly meet the yearnings of people and improve the national transport infrastructure.’’
The president charged the contractors to ensure timely completion of the project and appealed to road users to bear with the inconveniences the construction might cause.
He also said that government had made adequate funding arrangement to see the project through to completion.
Minister of Works Mike Onolememen in a welcome address, said that the Lagos-Ibadan expressway constructed between 1974 and 1978 was among the first dual carriageways in the country.
He said the road is a major highway in the South-West geopolitical zone, which connects, Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states to other parts of the country.
“The road is a major artery that connects, Lagos, the economic nerve centre of the nation and most Nigerian sea ports, to other states of the federation.
“At the regional level, it is a section of the Trans-sahara Highway that links Lagos on the Atlantic Ocean to Algiers on the Mediterranean Sea.
“The road is, therefore, of great economic importance not only to Nigeria but the sub-region at large,” Onolememen said
Present at the event were Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; his predecessor, Gbenga Daniel; the deputy governors of Lagos, Oyo, Osun and Ondo states, ministers, and traditional rulers
The Federal Government in November 2012 revoked the failed Lagos-Ibadan expressway concession contract awarded to Bi-Courtney in 2009.
Onolememen, who announced the revocation, had explained that Bi-Courtney violated the contract terms, particularly, its failure to secure needed funds for the job.
He had also announced that the road would be constructed by two construction firms, Julius Berger and RCC.
Prior to Onolememen’s revocation announcement, Jonathan had during a Presidential media chat, last year, said that government was about to take a “definite” position on the failed road contract.
“The immediate construction of the highway is now underway and will be partly handled by Julius Berger and RCC.
“Due to the senseless carnage on this important expressway which is part of Arterial Route A1, the Federal Government has also decided to embark on the emergency reconstruction of the expressway.
“While Julius Berger would handle section 1: from Lagos to Shagamu interchange, RCC Nigeria Limited will be responsible for section II: from Shagamu to Ibadan,” Onolememen had said then.
Concession agreement with Bi-Courtney was for it to Build, Operate and Transfer the road.
After completion, the company was to operate the expressway and its facilities for 25 years.
Specifically, the agreement entitled the company to revenue recoup rights, stretching from charging food vendors to vehicular tolling and on parking lots.