The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, says the Lagos-Ibadan expressway will be completed by April 30 but the Abuja-Kano one will not be completed before the transition to the next administration.
Mr Fashola said this at the pre-inspection of the completed Loko-Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa State on Wednesday.
“I want to appeal to commuters on that road for continuous patience and understanding: it is a difficult project to execute because it is perhaps one of the busiest roads in the country.
“Building through 40,000 vehicular traffic daily is not an easy undertaking, we cannot shut down the road. So, we have to manage and divert traffic for the safety of those involved in the construction.
“So, I want to implore that forbearance continues because the deadline date we have for completion now is April 30.
“In about four weeks, 26 days, plus or minus, that road should also be fully completed, open to traffic from Lagos to Ibadan, and beyond the toll gate up to kilometre 116.”
According to him, what will be left is nine kilometres from Kilometres 17 to 27.
Mr Fashola said the reason that would be left was that the Oyo State Government is constructing drainage across the road, adding that the drainage was necessary to help address the issue of excessive flooding and climate change in the state.
“We believe that it is better to wait for them to finish that project, and then complete the remaining nine kilometres, instead of building it now and then having them cut it up again.”
Speaking also about the Abuja-Kano expressway, to be completed on 30 April as well, Mr Fashola said it was the biggest of all the road projects in terms of scope and budget.
“Abuja-Kano is the biggest of the three projects in terms of scope, in terms of size, in terms of budget; it is 375 kilometres.
” It encompasses 41 bridges of different sizes. It was the last to start, so it cannot finish at the same time. That is the honest truth.
“But we have made progress from Zaria to Kano, that is, 137 kilometres, and the contractors tell us that by May 15 that site should be fully completed.
“Then, we have Kaduna to Zaria, which is about 70-something kilometres. That side of course, they say will be completed on the 30th of this month, fully open to traffic,” he said.
Mr Fashola, however, said the Abuja-Kaduna road which is one of the projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration, would not be finished in the life of the administration.
“The eye of the storm, the most difficult part and that is the busiest part, is the Kaduna to Abuja side. That has suffered all kinds of delays and it would not be finished in the life of this administration.
“It is the most trafficked side. It has almost 40,000 vehicles in traffic every day. But those are not just the problems; the problems are that the right of way has been severely encroached on between FCT, Niger and Kaduna states.
“We are working with the governors to help relocate all the obstructions, otherwise, we cannot fully build it.
“Apart from that, the project is also delayed by the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project. We need that gas pipeline project as a major boost for our energy security.”
The minister said these were some of the challenges unseen to members of the public, adding that both the road and the pipeline were important, hence they had to be taken in sequence and order.
“We lost almost a year and a half to security challenges or sometimes contractors had to move from that section completely – they could not work.
“Thankfully, we must acknowledge the work that has been done by the law enforcement agencies, especially the Chief of Defense Staff and his team.
“They have made the return to that site easier and possible for our contractors. So, those are no longer an existent problem now. It is just the manhours now to do the work.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government has also finished the Loko-Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa State and the Second Niger Bridge both to be inaugurated soon.