Julius Berger: Symbol of suffering and anguish to Nigerian road users
It is a well known fact across the globe that road rehabilitation works more often than not come with some level of discomfort to the road users. This is given the fact that sometimes it becomes expedient to temporarily close one of the lanes to pave way for such rehabilitation works.
In some cases, the construction company in conjunction with relevant government agencies create temporary alternative routes to mitigate the inconveniences that the road users might face in the course of the rehabilitation work.
In some climes where the government is sensitive to the feelings and wellbeing of the citizens, the construction company undertaking the repair work on the road is compelled by the government or its relevant agencies the commencement date of the work and the day it is expected to terminate.
In many other climes, the construction firm does the job at night or any other traffic is very light scanty on the road such as weekends.
This is never the case in Nigeria, especially when Julius Berger plc embarks on any road rehabilitation work in the country.
The re-surfacing of the long bridge on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway remains a classical example.
The company commenced that job precisely on June 7, 2016 by demarcating the right side of the beginning of the bridge inward Lagos. It is however on record that the company did not do any work two weeks after it shut the right lane and within this period, the resultant gridlock extends beyond Ibafo. Thus, a journey from the Redemption Camp to Berger Bus stop, which should take maximum of 20 minutes took a minimum of six hours.
As would be expected, fares on that route went to the rooftops, as commercial bus operators took undue advantage of the unregulated nature of transport system in the country to fleece hapless commuters as if they are part owners of Julius Berger that caused the gridlock.
There were also several robbery incidences through which many Nigerian lost their lives. Scores of women have been raped for no fault of theirs.
I was almost robbed on that long bridge about three Thursdays ago at about 7.05 pm on my way from Ibadan to the Island. It took the intervention of some Mobile Police Officers on the convoy of someone, who confronted the robbers fire for fire.
Between June 7 and middle of November when the company completed the rehabilitation of one side of that road, the company is about to unleash this mindless mayhem and untold hardship on Nigerians. The company’s road rehabilitation works have over time proven to be a symbol of suffering, anguish and untold hardship to the Nigerian road users.
Since last week when it began work the OPIC end of the bridge, it has been a hell of suffering, as the gridlock sometimes extends beyond the old toll gate in Lagos.
Could someone please tell Julius Berger that is not a crime for the Federal Government to have awarded the contract to it with tax payers’ money for which Nigerians must be punished?
The company should be reminded that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway remains the only link between Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and the rest of the country and so any rehabilitation job is important on such road.
This is what is happening now when several man hours are lost by Nigerians on daily basis, which has negative implications for the economy. In addition to this loses to the economy, many Nigerians have tales of woes to tell over the security challenges they have had to go through while wadding through this perennial gridlock.
In as much as the road users would have to suffer some inconveniences, efforts should be made to reduce them as much as possible.
For instance, the company can decide to work at night. The Lagos and Ogun State Police Commands can work out the security logistics for such night work
Similarly, the company can also utilize non-peak traffic periods such as Saturdays and Sundays when there are few vehicles on the road.
But experience has shown that the company closes 5pm daily Monday to Friday and skeletal work on Saturdays.
This is where the role of the relevant agencies of the government comes in. They should do well to compel the company to adopt measures that would reduce the suffering of the people as a result of the road rehabilitation.
This is therefore a clarion call to spare Nigerian road users of this anguish and suffering that have characterised the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway since June. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.