By Soyombo Opeyemi
BY all accounts, the Ogun state government’s directive to Julius Berger Plc not to work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway during the rush hours is a welcome development.According to the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, “the objective of this directive is to mitigate the man-hour losses as well as socio-economic disruptions occasioned by the ongoing reconstruction work.”That Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been a source of agony to thousands of commuters on a daily basis is a well-known fact. The state of that highway is a huge drain on the economy of Nigeria, especially residents of Ogun State, as the most productive hours of the day are lost on the road due to traffic gridlock.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Nigerians have commended the Ogun state government for directing the construction giant to work on the road between 10am and, 4pm and from 10pm to 6am daily. Nigerians, who will benefit from the reconstruction, should not die due to stress on the road before the work is completed!
The practice in developed climes is for such work to be undertaken in the night and during such hours that would impose the most minimal inconveniences on commuters.I travelled to Lagos recently. Between the Redemption Camp at Mowe and Berger in Lagos, I spent five hours. Initially, I thought there was an accident or an articulated vehicle had broken down. But to my chagrin, I discovered that it was the road contractor that had blocked the long bridge before Berger leaving only one lane for thousands of vehicles on the road.To make matters worse, the construction company was not on the highway on that day and no work was actually going on, on the largely blocked bridge.Time is money. Indeed, time is life. The good news emanating from Ogun State in recent years is a product of the value the state government has placed on time. No economy develops by wasting time. Economic development is a function of time management. No investor wants his or her time wasted.
To underscore the importance placed on time, at the recently concluded Investors’ Forum, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, declared, that the state has expanded the Bureau of Urban and Physical Planning into a full-fledged Ministry and has adopted reforms that fast-track the process for obtaining development permits from six weeks to two and land clearance permits to one week.
To make it easier for investors to take full advantage of the vast opportunities in Ogun State, the government has further expanded the services offered by the One-Stop-Shop that was launched in 2012.
The One-Stop-Shop will enable investors to go to only one office in order to process Urban and Physical Planning permits; to access the Bureau of Lands to conduct transactions such as land title searches, to purchase land and obtain certificates of occupancy/Governor’s consent; to access the Internal Revenue Service; to acquire land for agriculture; and finally to access the Legal Advisory Desk – all under one roof.” This obviously is the mindset of a government committed to economic development.
From day one in office, Governor Amosun has been concerned about the state of Lagos-Ibadan road. It’s a federal road but it impacts more on the economy of the state. This is what has led to the state government’s constant intervention on the highway in repairs, maintenance of security and traffic sanity. The media are suffused with stories of Amosun alighting from his car to personally direct traffic or bring a chaotic situation under control.The SSG was on spot when he said that, “the public will recall that we confronted these challenges headlong. We set up a taskforce to checkmate the excesses of the trailer drivers so much so that the governor personally led regular enforcement teams on the expressway.
We also invested heavily on redesigning the security architecture of the state by deploying Armoured Personnel Carriers, elite Quick Response Squad, QRS; Operation MESA and the state Traffic Enforcement and Compliance Agency, TRACE”.
The state government has often intervened by undertaking major repair works on bad stretches of the road, not minding the fact that it is a Federal government highway.Besides, the state has taken responsibility for clearing traffic, maintaining security and cleaning after the departure of our monthly religious visitors.
These efforts restored relative sanity on the road and greatly reduced robbery incidents. But that was until the recent intervention by Julius Berger. The objective of this directive is therefore to mitigate the man-hour losses as well as socio-economic disruptions occasioned by the ongoing reconstruction work.
Julius Berger should take maximum advantage of night time when the highway is virtually free of vehicles and work at the speed of light to meet the expectations of President Buhari, who has made the reconstruction of the economically-strategic highway a priority.
nSoyombo writes from Abeokuta via [email protected]