Still smarting from the diesel tanker inferno that razed down 34 buildings and 70 shops last June, residents of Idimu town, an old settlement in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State are in the news again for another worrisome reason. GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR reports.
Daily Times features desk visited the massive 2.2 kilometers dual carriage way road construction that overran graves and properties earlier in March this year and found the project abandoned! The construction company, Metropolitan Construction Company (MCC) has moved both equipment and entire workforce from site, leaving the people bitter and frustrated.
The all important road, proposed to link the major Ikotun-Iyana-Ipaja road to Ejigbo/NNPC and airport roads and on to Oshodi through Ilamoshe/Ajao Estates on one part is also designed to link motorists and commuters from Ikotun, Isheri through Orisunbare town to Ikeja and Oshodi through Egbeda-Dopemu bridge, among others.
In the second tenure of former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Idimu road had found favour with the former governor who contracted the road to a competent bidder at the cost of N900 million.
Though work started and progressed at top speed from the beginning, the people had hoped that the project would be completed before Fashola left office, but this was not to be. Now their fear is confirmed as the government of Akinwumi Ambode has scuttled the construction work in favour of the age old Ejigbo-Ikotun road that has been an eyesore for decades.
With all government attention upon Ejigbo-Ikotun road, Idimu residents query why Lagos State Government cannot maintain continuity in projects of this magnitude.
Daily Times located the construction site engineer, Mr. Ilori Abiodun recently and sought to know the reason for their stoppage of work. Although the engineer was reluctant to speak freely on the stoppage, but information gathered by our correspondent confirmed the people’s fear is not unfounded.
Is it a case of political muscle flexing between the former and present governors?
There’s no problem of any kind really; you know this is a project and money is released in phases. Of course you’re aware this is a new government just taking off and they need time to settle down and decide their priorities. On our part, we are contractors and business men, so we have to meet and know the new government that has come in.”
Why did the company shut down and left the site?
“Well, we have to put our acts together and present our figures. We’ve prepared and submitted our papers and they’re working on it. I assure you there’s no problem or disagreement between the two parties. The new governor went round and was pleased with the quality of job done now. He promised that every contractor will be mobilised accordingly and we will continue the project.”
Just how much has been paid and how much is left in the contract?
“In the beginning of the contract we were given 40% mobilisation; we’ve worked up to 60% as you can see; the drainage has been done, the raft work also has been done; the collector that will take water to the canal is done also.”
“However, we still need to continue the project further before we get another payment. If the money comes out now as we speak, we will remobilise and return to work the next day.”
The delay in payment will no doubt extend the contract period;
Daily Times gathered that the contract worth N900 million has been paid up to 40%; another 30% is being expected before a final payment is made, but government is expected to withhold what is termed retention money for a whole year so that the durability of the roadwork can be proven before a final payment is released to the construction company.
The engineer assured that as soon as they get back to site the job would be finished with the same speed they started with. “The most important part of the job is the drainage and we took quality time and expertise to complete it. When we return back to site, all we’re going to do is dressing and finishing. I can assure the people of Idimu that the remaining job won’t go beyond 12 weeks to complete once we return back to site.”
On the roads through which the collector ran through to the canal through Silva estate, the engineer confirmed the fears of the residents:
“We’re not asphalting that road, or any other road in the adjoining estates, so residents of Silva estate who are clamouring for it should know that is not part of the contract.”
On the failure of the company to cover up the cross culvert along the OPC junction to Idimu road intersection, the engineer acknowledged they had problems when the rains came down heavily.
“We had problems with the heavy rains during the period, but it was a good thing it happened like that because when the rain fell heavily, we saw the movement of the water current and that informed why we decided to introduce an additional culvert. When we started with that one and introduced the wall, we were unable to finish up before we pulled out.”
On the inferno that destroyed 70 shops and over 40 houses), the engineer revealed it was the drainage constructed earlier by his company that reduced the inferno to the minimal damage suffered by the people.
“Idimu town didn’t have a drainage in place when we started work. Some houses that constructed a make shift gutter did it only in front of their houses and they were few; most of the stretch of the road didn’t have gutter at all.
“But for the standard drainage we started with at the beginning of the project, the inferno would have spread to both sides of the road far and wide, but our drainage gave it a path to follow for over 500 meters until the fire weakened; so there is blessing in everything that happens.”
It would be recalled that successive governments had failed to resolve the issues but Fashola addressed and negotiated with stakeholders all the way. Though the roads from the Canoe to the airport road through Ajao estate are still issues before the court as landlords try to stop government from demolition their expensive houses, but workers, traders and motorists as well as students are happy today that the old Canoe eventually gave way to a beautiful dual carriage way linking Ejigbo, NNPC and Ilamoshe estates to Ajo estate, the airport road as well as Oshodi.
However, Idimu residents, comprising generations of migrated Yoruba natives are disappointed that Gov Ambode stopped the project almost at the point of completion.
The truth may never be known why the Lagos State government abandoned the Idimu-Ejigbo and Ijegun-Jakande roads for the ongoing Ejigbo-Ikotun road. It is however clear that the stoppage has brought untold hardship to residents of the affected areas, especially now the rains are not showing any sign of abating yet.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government’s announcement of compensations to residents and traders who lost their businesses and homes to the June inferno was received with mixed feelings.
A business man who lost over N1.3m to the inferno told Daily Times Governor Ambode’s compensation fell short of their expectations.
“When the governor made his promise last June, many of us that were affected had great hope; even my landlord who lost his house to the fire was started consulting with builders in anticipation of the compensation money promised us. They were relocated to the internally displaced persons’ camp somewhere in Igando.
“When government officials came here, everybody gathered and we were shocked when we learnt that a cheque for N100,000 is available for some of us who could prove their losses to collect.
“We were instructed to open a bank account with Zenith bank with the cheque and thereafter, we will be able to withdraw a maximum of N90,000 because N10,000 must be left in the account always.
“Well, what can I do? That amount is not even enough to ‘go a long way’. How many bags of cement can that money buy compared to our merchandise, wardrobes, household properties and even the buildings?”
Other traders who spoke to Daily Times said they want Lagos people to know that what government gave to them cannot qualify as compensation. “What will N90,000 do for my family?,” lamented Madam Sidiku who lost her entire house to the inferno.
“We have no money to rebuild our house; our double-shop that was sustaining us cannot be replaced with even N2 million, and Ambode is giving us N90,000. It is not what we expected; look at my age; people should fear God because He is the One that compensates everyone according to what they have done.”