Communities along the Abuja-Lokoja Highway have blamed native builders and federal agencies for the slow pace of construction work on the 196-kilometer road project place at N42.3billion at the beginning of 18 July 2006. The communities lamented the lingering deplorable condition of the road and the snail-speed approach to the job awarded from the Olusegun Obasanjo administration with a 30-month completion interval.
The Odumi of Omoko, a neighborhood along the street, Mallam Umar Zozi, stated they had resigned to fate.
He explained: “Had the structure of the all-important highway been completed on schedule, it might not just have eased the movement of commuters and products from the south and northern Nigeria, but the numerous deadly accidents caused by potholes which have claimed lives could have been prevented.”
Amos Yakubu, a commercial bus driver, lamented the spate of accidents on the road, particularly from the military Check-Point later Chikara down to Ohuno, Gegu and other communities in-between up to Konto-Karfi.
Additionally, a commuter, Alhaja Binta Adejo, regretted authorities ‘s decision to award the contract to indigenous companies, stressing that”the delay in the conclusion has made traveling to the road not only a nightmare but literally provides underworld persons ample chance to conduct their romantic companies with reckless abandon.”
Read also: BREAKING: Heavily armed security operatives on Saturday took on the Yoruba Nation Mega Rally place
A neighborhood leader in Gegu, who did not want to be named, said: “It seems the federal government and its agencies have not been proactive in the quest to get the street completed, otherwise, it might have forced the native contractors managing the job to complete it or reverse the contract and award it to a competent contractor.
“In reality, had the contract been awarded to a foreign firm, the street before today would have been tear-leather finished and even commissioned.”
Complementing the position of an earlier respondent, Mallam Zozi, the source said the communities had resigned to their fate because of the seemingly lackadaisical approach of the authorities to the various contractors’ delay on the completion of the street.
In still another interview, a commercial driver, Mr. Oluwakemi Adebola said despite departing Gwagwalada 5.00’m for Garki, he wouldn’t reach his destination in good time because of gridlock.
Shehu, who bemoaned the gridlock in Gwagwalada, said: “It is not first time, it occurs every day so long as the building work is ongoing. We do not know when the construction work will be finished.”
“The same fate frequently befalls us civil servants when visiting perform. We just urge the federal government to up its game and get the contractor to do the needful and finish the job,” said a civil servant who craved anonymity.
Blueprint analysis further revealed people expired on daily basis when crossing the road, especially the Okada riders who transported passengers due to lack of pedestrian bridge.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Hule, a construction and building engineer who spoke to Blueprint in Gwagwalada, said federal government required to accelerate and deal with the factors responsible for accidents on the highway.
“Infrastructural deficiencies and financial constraints are a number of the challenges militating against attempts to keep the roads safe. The government has to commence the rehabilitation and resuscitation of the highway system in addition to the dualisation of major highways throughout the country.
“Many countries are passing legislations and bill to increase penalties against road traffic offenses and poor roads; nothing is too much to decrease deaths to zero levels on the roads in our nation. That’s assumed to be our objective.
“We’re advising government in Any Way levels to support all efforts towards reduction of accidents deaths on our roads, revamping of these lingering issues of bad road and insufficient roads, lack of standard road furniture and limited technology in the enforcement and motoring process on the streets,’ he said”
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Ayokunle, recently bemoaned the lack of urgency in the building work stating”It is a shame to the country, that 15 years later, the construction of a 200-kilometre road is not yet been completed,” and wondered why the authorities seem to be less concerned about speedy and quality delivery of jobs.
One of our correspondents, who tracked the work, found that”from Chikara into Omoko alone- a space of about seven kilometres-there are no fewer than 127 potholes, which is even better than the condition of portions of the street from Konto-Karfi into Chikara. Some potholes are up to 4.5metres in thickness and approximately 30 metres in width.”
Although the Kwali- Chikara section handled by SUKKU was in great condition as at the time of the report, some portions on the other section supposedly completed through an indigenous firm, had started wearing off from the shoulders although some portions had folded hence making driving less smooth and pleasant.
How the contract was awarded
The Obasanjo administration had initially awarded Section 1 of the road at the amount of N11.2 billion, section 2 brings N9.6 billion, department three in N9.6 billion, while section four gulped N11.9 billion respectively.
The N42.3billion contract sums had undergone up reviews at different times.
The Abuja-Lokoja section 1; Juba to Sheda 42km to Dantata and Sawoe, Section 11 Sheda into Abaji, 57 km to RCC Structure Coy, Section 111- Abaji to Konto-Karfi Abaji into Bulletine Construction Limited and Section iv from Konto-Karfi into Lokoja granted to Gitto Construction Coy.
However, the completion date has been extended to 30th of June, 2021.
During a recent review of work progress on the job, Minister of State for Works Abubakar Aliyu, stated the contract was reviewed in 2018 and the cost increased based on exigencies raised to N29billion from the present government.
The ministry allayed the fear of people that the project was jinxed by expressing hope that it would eventually be finished over the next quarter of 2021 to be commissioned by December.
“It was reviewed in 2018 and the price increased dependent on the time value of the money to N29bn, so the job has been going on and has reached more than 95% completion. We are here in order to agree on specific grey areas that are making this street not be finished in the specified time,” the minister said.
Blueprint gathered that among the grey regions are upgrades needed for the perfect delivery’, addition of an agency lane in the select park inside the Gwagwalada metropolis and needed approval for its inclusion by the authorities.
This was recently revealed during the minister’s inspection by the Executive Director Dantata and Sawoe, Mallam Nasiru Dantata, who affirmed that necessary approvals were required to get the work done without additional delay.
“It is to be easy work once it’s approved. So, this really is the missing link, only 1 stretch in Gwagwalada that’s staying. After we do that we have little things to tidy up and hand over the occupation,” Dantata assured.
He said observers were concerned that the necessary approval’ may consist of extra-cost for its grey areas.’
Funding our challenge -FG
Funsho Adebiyi, recognized funding among the factors delaying the project.
He, however, clarified that the current government had attracted funding for the project under Sukuk intervention.
Adebiyi also noted that soil texture in one of the sections delayed the space of work on the job site but assured it would be completed soon.
He said: “Funding was one of those factors responsible for the slow space of work. Before the life of this administration, the project experienced funding challenges. But now we are utilizing Sukuk to bridge the financing gap.
“The Gwagwalada exit stage of this project is being repaired. And it will be ready in two weeks’ time and will soon be open to visitors.
“There are just four builders on that road, and also the challenges of dirt problems forced us to do a lot of self re-modification there. In a nutshell, funding and soil problems were what we had been addressing and now that we are through, quite shortly, the undertaking will be completed.
“Work is happening in the rest of the parts of the street and it will be done soon. We wish to give the road users comfort on the route and I appeal to them to keep with us we shall be through.”