Stakeholders urge FG to enforce high standards in Ota-Idiroko road project

0

By Owoleye Oluwakayode

As Nigerians await details of the proposed reconstruction of 64-kilometre Ota-Idiroko road project in 2022, critical stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to enforce high standards by ensuring best practices in design and specifications.

The experts, who welcomed initiative to rebuild the road through a tax credit scheme, emphasized need to use high-quality materials, ensure maximum supervision/oversight and involve local expertise.

The Federal Government through the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had hinted on plans to rebuild the dilapidated road through tax credit of indigenous telecoms firm, Globalcom.

The scheme comes under Nigeria’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme (Order 7, 2019), an intervention in the road transportation sector signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

The minister said, “The real reconstruction will happen if we have a deal with Glo. If the FEC approves such arrangement, then Otunba Mike Adenuga’s Globacom will fix this strategic Ota-Idiroko road that connects Nigeria to her neighbouring country of Republic of Benin using its tax credit. Federal government must accept his design and valuation.”

Efforts to get reactions and more details on the projectfrom Globacom last week, weren’t successful. Speaking on the proposed reconstruction, Chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Abeokuta branch, Dr. Kolawole Olonade, said the government must ensure that the road is well designed and should be awarded to qualified engineers/firms by the financier.

On design, he stated that traffic count study on the road must be done before starting the rebuilding process. Government, he said, should ensure that local engineers are involved in the project.

He said: “We need Nigeria’s engineers to be challenged by involving them in projects. If they make mistakes, they will learn from it and improve next time. We need to use tested materials and qualified engineers to design our roads. There are lots of articulated vehicles passing through the road and it requires a lot of study. It should be a self-sustained project and it won’t be out of place if a toll is put on that road for its maintenance.”

He stressed that the only way to achieve a durable road in Nigeria is by engaging professionals and avoiding abuse of roads by the people who often burn tyres in the middle of the road.

“The road is in a deplorable condition and when the road is completed, that will be fantastic because the road is an economic road and access to Agbara in Ogun State, because there are many industries in that area that will ease movement of people and goods coming from that ecorridor,” he said.

Former chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Apapa branch, Dr. Ombugadu Garba, lauded the plan describing it as ‘people’s taxes in action.”

He said, “We will be expecting that the road is constructed to the highest quality that it deserves. It must be done like a contract awarded to specification. It must not be a casual construction as if somebody is doing a favour to the government, rather parties must be serious about it.

“The design must cover the drainages. If water has nowhere to drain, it will come back to destroy the road. The issue of supervision is important because sometimes road projects are given to people who have no business in construction. The oversight of the government must not be neglected. People collect contracts and will want to take 95 per cent of the money home and then the people suffer.”

An estate Surveyor and Valuer, Mr. Salmon Shobanke, said the reconstruction is expected to have positive effect the real estate sector. He said there will be higher demand for property in the corridor.

He added that the development would also improve the rental value. Shobanke observed that in the early 1980’s/90’s, Ota used to be the commercial nerve centre of Ogun State. However, he said when the economic crisis in Nigeria started, many industries packed up, stressing that the current deplorable state of the road has compounded the problem.

“Before now, if you have property in Ota-ldiroko axis, you will be excited. But these days, there are a lot of voids and vacancies in the market.”

On his part, the immediate past chairman of Lagos branch of NIESV, Mr. Adedotun Bamigbola, also expressed optimism that when the Ota-ldiroko roads are reconstructed, it will further boost the economy and property sector in the area.