Sunday, July 18, 2021 9:00 pm
Ijebu Ode-Lekki expressway, Seyi Bakare,
By Seyi Bakare
“Have you seen the just completed Ijebu-Ode Lekki expressway? I just can’t believe that we have such a marvel right here in Ogun State! Talk about a prime location for filmmaking! Hats off to Governor Dapo Abiodun, who promised and actually kept his word,” Adeyemi Ogunsola, a businessman and aspiring film director, enthused on Tuesday this week. His excitement is not without cause: it isn’t often that promises made during electioneering are taken seriously in this clime. Both the promiser and the promisee, if one may use those terms, assume that rhetoric is part of the game of politicking, and politicians, going by experience over the decades, forget their lofty statements almost as soon as they descend from the campaign podium. The end result is quite predictable: the people, mere statistics in government departments, are perennially shortchanged and society stagnates. This is why departures from the norm, if and when spotted, need to be encouraged in the hope that officialdom will take notice and those taking the people for a ride can see what it really means to have integrity.
When, sometime last year, the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, flagged off the construction of the 14-kilometer Ijebu-Ode-Itamapako-Epe road, saying that it was meant to ease the agonies of motorists, increase the urbanization map of the state and open the state up for investment, only those familiar with his personality, track record and governance style took him seriously. For the majority, whose pessimism must be excused because it is rooted in the historiography of failed political promises, the governor was merely being the typical politician. Except that he was not.
Reinforcing Prince Abiodun’s solemn promise, the Project Manager, Craneburg Construction, Amine Tawk, had disclosed during an interaction with newsmen in February that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the road would soon be completed, with no less than 30 communities reaping economic benefits. That promise aligned perfectly with Prince Abiodun’s pledge during an inspection tours of roads across the state, namely that the 14.7km road would be inaugurated in the second half of this year. As the state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, noted, infrastructure development is a major agenda of the state government. The road, a dual carriageway with 10 lanes, four lanes on each side with one pull-out section, and a 14-lane toll plaza for easy payment of tolls, has now been completed, to the amazement of naysayers and the joy of an appreciative populace. It was awarded to Craneburg Construction in a public-private partnership arrangement under the Build, Use and Transfer framework. Its features are a marvel. Aesthetically, its furniture and beautiful landscape are a great sight to behold.
As many Nigerians are no doubt aware, the Ijebu Ode-Lekki expressway, which lies at the border areas and connects Ogun to Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, used to be quite busy during the defunct Western Region administration led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory. But with wear and tear and the governmental neglect that has sadly become a feature of life in this clime, it soon became a nightmare to road users, and for decades spoke to the open sore of an abundantly blessed but ingloriously managed clime. Happily, however, with the pragmatic intervention by the Ogun State government, the Ijebu Ode-Lekki road is now a vital infrastructure born anew, reinvented and emplaced for public comfort. Don’t take my word for it: take a trip on the beautiful road and exult in the pleasures of a new dawn.
The road now has serves effectively as a supporting road to the ever busy Lagos/Ibadan expressway. Travellers heading to Ikorodu, Epe, Lekki and adjoining areas from Ogun State no longer have any need to be caught up in the regular gridlock witnessed on the country’s busiest road. Are you passing through Ijebu-Ode and heading to Epe, Ajah and Victoria Island in Lagos State? The hassles of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway need not delay you any longer. There’s a perfect alternative to the always locked-down Lagos-Ibadan expressway. This certainly is music to the ears of motorists coming to Ogun State from Lagos, and for commercial drivers loading up their vehicles at Lekki and Ajah and heading to the East or the North.
Promised made, promise kept. Apart from the comfort that the new road offers to motorists, the many gains of the construction are manifesting speedily, even as motorists await its inauguration. To be sure, employment opportunities are already being created with the opening up of the host communities by the state government, and by investors, including industrialists who are now siting their businesses in those areas. Security wise, the timely completion of the road is worthy of applause: robbers now have no hiding place. And what is more, residents are already lauding the Abiodun administration’s desire to stimulate economic activities, create a safe environment where investment thrives, and increase the Ogun people’s quality of life despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19 on the economy. Economic and social gains come with the free access to different communities along the corridor, including the reduction in the burden of vehicle maintenance by motorists. For the residents of the affected communities, Governor Abiodun’s talk-and-do approach to governance signals convenience and economic prosperity for the state. In any case, there can be no hassles about the question of maintenance, since the road will be tolled. As citizen Ogunsola quipped, hats off to Governor Abiodun for keeping his word.
*Bakare, a public affairs analyst, sent this piece from [email protected]