The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has called for total regeneration of roads and other infrastructure in Apapa, which houses the nation’s major ports, to boost the nation’s economy.
Fashola made the call during an inspection tour of road projects on Saturday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister began his inspection from the National Stadium, Surulere, through Alaka to roads in Apapa and the Apongbon bridge to the Outer Marina.
While inspecting the Alaka Flyover bridge, the minister instructed his team of engineers, led by the Director, Federal Highways, South-West, Mr Emmanuel Adeoye, to expedite action on the replacement of vandalised manhole covers.
“While we are battling to restore Liverpool Road and the bridge, this road must not collapse, it would shut down the country,’’ he said.
Fashola urged the engineers to reconstruct some drains and blocked drainage channels connecting a major canal in front of the National Theatre, Iganmu, to solve flood problem causing persistent road degeneration in the area.
“Why did you have wait this long to allow this level of degeneration. If you have to do the drainage and construct some box culverts to keep the drainage flowing, please do it.
“If we lose Liverpool Road (road leading to the Tin Can Island Port and the Nigeria Ports Authority) and this place (Funsho Williams Road), we would have shut down the nation,’’ he said.
He appealed to Mr Vaknin Harel, the Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Project Manager handling the Rehabilitation of Funsho Williams Road to the Ijora Bridge to speed up construction.
Fashola said that the entire stretch of the road was sitting on swampy land and stressed the need to finish the construction before another rainfall.
He also instructed the contractor to replace vandalised bridge railings on the axis with concrete.
Harel had earlier explained that RCC was filling several potholes caused by flooding, as well as filling the road with more durable materials to asphalt stage, to make the road last longer.
“The culverts are blocked from beginning to end, we need to fix new culverts,’’ Harel said.
Fashola directed his team of engineers to liaise with the relevant authorities to relocate the popular Costain Bus Stop on Funsho Williams Avenue, to check gridlock and persistent road degeneration.
“This Costain Roundabout is not a bus stop, but the layby ahead,’’ he said.
While inspecting the street lights under and above the Ijora and Funsho Williams Avenue bridges, the Minister directed his engineers to liaise with Rural Electrification, to replace all the lights.
“If there are new solar technologies, adopt them.
“It is a total regeneration of this Apapa area,’’ he said.
While inspecting the Apapa Wharf Road Reconstruction Project, he said that President Muhammadu Buhari was happy with the financiers of the project: AG Dangote Construction Company, Flour Mills of Nigeria Ltd and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“President Buhari appreciates the gesture,’’ he said.
Mrs Korede Keisha, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing Engineer supervising the project, explained that the project was being slowed down by the inability to relocate some gas pipes which were too expensive to move.
“We decided to shift the road about one metre from the gas pipe, since the contractor, AG Dangote, cannot excavate for drains, he is escavating for the roads,’’ Keisha said.
Mr Kayode Opeifa, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation, and Consultant to AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd on the project, explained that a collaboration on the traffic management plan was helping the firm surmount the problem of gridlock, to free the site for construction.
Opeifa, however, lamented the activities of unorganised port operators causing congestion of trucks going into the ports.
The Project Manager, AG Dangote Construction Company, Mr Jimoh Tunde, contractor handling the project, while conducting the minister round some new equipment on site, said the machines were to ensure deep excavation for a solid foundation.
Briefing journalists, Fashola said that the ministry was working on making all roads in Apapa and its environs motorable because of the importance of the axis to the national economy, adding that the roads were inadequately maintenance for about 40 years.
The Minister explained that he was doing his part just as his counterpart in the Ministry of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amechi, was working to revive the rails to make movement of cargo in and out of the ports easier.
This is part of our efforts to decongest the ports,’’ he said.
Speaking on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Fashola explained that there was a virement proposal before the National Assembly for the appropriation of funds on the project.
He explained that the contractors were still being owed on the project but that the National Assembly was expected to solve the problem soon.
“We have about N15 billion in unpaid certificates,’’ he said.
The minister appealed to the media to intensify campaigns against stealing of manhole covers and vandalism of other road furniture.
He said that the ministry was going to replace steel manhole covers which were being stolen with fibre, which he said the vandals may not find useful.