- Category: Travel & Transport
- Published on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 08:02
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 708
MOTORISTS plying the troubled Lagos-Ibadan Expressway may soon heave a sigh of relief following indications that the Federal Government has withdrawn the road from the concessionaire, Bi-Courtney Highway Services, which had unsuccessfully battled to raise funds for the reconstruction of the road since it won the contract on May 26, 2009.
Government sources confirmed to us on Monday that a decision had been taken to withdraw the concession from Bi-Courtney and that the government was ready to communicate the company to withdraw from the project.
Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, had said early in August that a decision was due on the Lagos-Ibadan road concession in two weeks and that the government was analysing all issues related to the contract.
Sources, however, said on Monday that the government had decided to take over the road and immediately deploy resources to ensure its prompt completion. It was confirmed that the contract for the road would be awarded in 2013 to ensure that Nigerians were spared the endless sufferings they endured on that road.
A meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the South-West governors had in June reviewed the progress made so far by Bi-Courtney on the road.
Governors of the South-West who attended the meeting at the Presidential Villa were said to have expressed willingness to take over the road from the concessionaire, who they described as lacking the capacity to execute the project. But the presidency, it was said, was wary of handing over a strategic road, such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, to regional authorities.
It was said that handing over such a major access road in the country to regional governments could trigger similar demands from other areas, just as it would have serious implications for national security.
Sources said, however, that Bi-Courtney was not in the dark of the decision reached by the government on the expressway.
It was said that the decision was like an amicable resolution of the concession agreement, when it became obvious to the government that the company could not deliver.
A source confirmed that the government had also ordered a fresh design of the road, which will make it a 10-lane expressway.
“One of the points used to convince Bi-Courtney is the fact that the road should no longer be retained as a six-lane road being planned by the concessionaire. It was discovered that with its importance, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway should not be less than a 10-lane road,” a source stated.
It was confirmed that the government is looking towards accommodating the project in the 2013 budget but a source said that the contract award could be delayed by the fresh engineering design.
According to a source, the government had looked at the concession agreement and discovered that the best way out was to ease Bi-Courtney off the contract. The government at the same time did not want to set a bad precedent for its Public Private Partnership (PPP) drive.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is the prime road in the country. It is the best example to showcase PPP, because once PPP works on that road, investors would easily flock into other Nigerian roads. That is why the government has been cautious on withdrawing the concessioning agreement. But with the decision to redesign the entire road network, Bi-Courtney is being technically knocked out, without much loss of face for the PPP drive, another source said, adding that a government team had worked on the terms of agreement. (Tribune)