The House of Representatives Committee on Works has commended the quality of work being done by the construction companies that are rehabilitating the Lagos-Ibadan road.
The committee members, led by its Chairman, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, traveled the length of the road, stopping at intervals to inspect and find out what type of material and technical expertise were being deployed.
Specifically, they tried to establish the sum of the contract and payments made so far, and to impress on the contractors that it was imperative they kept to the contract structure and timelines, however adjusted.
Hon. Okechukwu gave his committee’s impression, stating that “The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a major highway in this country. What we have seen is impressive in terms of construction. There have been some delays not occasioned by the contractor-there is about 3 per cent delay in time on the project but from what we see, they are making progress and the clement weather we have now, it is important that they have to improve on their speed.”
According to him, the disbursement of fund for the project was satisfactory. “We are satisfied with the disbursement of funds and the contractor is satisfied too. So, we do not see any reason why they should be delay, since out of N70 billion they have gotten about N30 billion and considering the percentage of work done, that is significant.”
There issues of weigh bridges and warehouses raised that the committee said would be dealt with when the ministry brings them up by way of appropriation.
The government believes weigh bridges should be constructed along with warehouses to check the effect of vehicle overload on the roads; excess load would be stored in the bridges’ warehouses until the owners pay their fines.
Okechukwu said presently the construction of weigh bridges and warehouses was not part of the contract for the Lagos-Ibadan road. “We know it is not sufficient to have just weigh bridges, we also need to have warehouses and an enforcement mechanism based on which some of these challenges would be met. It is not something that will require piecemeal approach. It is something we will advisably discuss with the ministry when it is included in the appropriation.”
On the absence of road furniture- kilometer signs/stones and diversion notices, among others, he said in the past all of these were included in the contract as a complete package, saying “We will ensure that these become part and parcel of every contract and where there are none, appropriation will be made for them.”
The committee sought to know from the contractors what maintenance mechanisms they had for the roads once construction work was done. “We don’t want a situation where a road designed to last 30 years will run down such that in 10 years’ time we are already talking about another contract. As a House, we know that the issue of routine maintenance. As we introduce the Road Fund Bill that will ensure internally generated revenue for the road sector.
It is not something that you will have annual appropriation, which is merely interventionist. Some roads may or may not appear in the budget, creating pressure points everywhere, but if you have some fund generated internally then you can disburse them dispassionately and that will also take into congnisance the usage of the road.”
The contractors are using synthetic asphalt overlay to protect the road from water percolation.