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Ijora-Wharf road construction suffers setback

by JOSHUA BASSEY & AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

October 17, 2017 | 1:20 am
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The reconstruction of the degraded Ijora-Wharf road which leads to the Apapa port, in Lagos, has hit a brick wall and it is almost certain that the project will not be completed within the one year time frame agreed to by the Federal Government, the financiers and the contractor, AG Dangote.

As things stand, businesses and residents within Apapa and its environs, who are already haunted by the aggravated traffic crisis arising from the construction work are seen in for a longer struggle.

Almost five months after the construction work was flagged off, the contractor has made no significant headway, due to the hindrance created by the discovery of underground utility cables belonging to Gaslink and Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) that require relocation from the right of way.

The road, stretching two kilometres from the Area ‘B’ Police Command to Apapa port, was handed over to the duo of Dangote Group, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) by Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, on behalf of the Federal Government, on June 18, to be completed within one year.

The three companies are financing the construction work at the cost of N4.3 billion, as part of their corporate social responsibility to a community where they do business.

Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), one of the project financiers, confirmed the development on Monday. Usman, who expressed concern over the slow pace of the construction, said that lack of funding for the relocation of cables was the major challenge facing the road project.

“I was at the project site two or three weeks back, and I was disappointed at the pace of work on Apapa-Ijora-Wharf road, but the issue of the relocation of the utilities found underground was brought to the fore,” said Hadiza to select journalists in Lagos.

According to her, the funding for the relocation was removed from the project bill of quantity, which now poses a serious challenge on how to fund the relocation of the Gaslink and electric power cables found underground.

Hadiza, however, said that the authority had written to the minister of Works, Power and Housing, who has also written to the procurement team to look at the bill of quantity and “put back the fund for the relocation of the utilities in the bill, to enable the contractor make progress on the work.”

She however said that the NPA has made clear to the contractor, the need to do more work and to resolve the back end, while the process of resolving all the issues hindering construction is ongoing.

On budgetary allocation for the rehabilitation of port access roads, she said: “We have written several letters demanding that the Federal Ministry of Works makes budgetary provisions for all the access roads to the ports across the country and not just Western port roads alone.

She identified roads such as Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Ikom Bridge leading to Calabar. “This was why the NPA had to intervene by earmarking the sum of N1.8 billion for the construction of Apapa-Ijora Wharf road, which is not under our purview but we had to do that to ensure that the road is constructed to the desired quality.”

Hadiza, alongside other stakeholders during a breakout session at the just concluded Nigeria Economic Summit, in Abuja, had made a case for the declaration of a state of emergency in Apapa. This is as businesses, residents and motorists continue to suffer untold hardship, as different roads leading into Apapa, including Mile 2-Tincan, Ijora-Wharf, Funsho Williams (Western Avenue) and Mobil road, have been taken over by hordes of trucks making their way daily to Apapa, to lift petroleum products or evacuate goods imported into the country.

Many of the tank farms located within Apapa have no parking spaces for over 1,000 tankers which enter the port community everyday, forcing them therefore to park on roads and bridges.

 

JOSHUA BASSEY & AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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by JOSHUA BASSEY & AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

October 17, 2017 | 1:20 am
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