The private sector investor currently in charge of the redevelopment of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is looking for around N150bn to complete the 127.6-kilometre project.
Paucity of funds is said to have hindered further work on the road, but our correspondents gathered that the new investor, Motorway Assets Limited, was in the final stages of negotiation with lenders to raise between N120bn and N150bn for the second tranche of funds to complete the project.
Our correspondents also gathered that the management of Motorway Assets Limited would meet with the potential financiers of the project on Friday to fine-tune the details of funding arrangement and other aspects of the project.
The reconstruction of the busiest highway in the country into 10 lanes was initially projected to cost N167bn, but the Managing Director, The Bank of Infrastructure, Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Monday that the project cost was likely to rise now because of the redesign of the road to accommodate new features.
According to him, the new set of consultants coming into the project are currently redesigning the road because the initial design was not comprehensive and did not take into account some peculiar factors.
Oyinloye said though the initial design made provision for a flyover to take vehicular traffic to the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God along the expressway, the consultants were looking at the sites of other religious bodies along the road and how best to solve the gridlock usually associated with the road anytime they had a programme.
He noted that other key features of the new design were the provision of 24-hour emergency and rescue services on the road, an engineering solution to the Mowe/Ibafo area where human activities were currently taking place almost in the centre of the road, and other facilities such as truck parts that would make the highway to be of international standard.
The TIB boss said, “The seeming lack of activities on the road is as a result of the new arrangement. The road is now a Public-Private Partnership project, which has a process and structure. About 75 per cent of the process is documentation; if we don’t get that right, the entire project will become a problem.
“Motorway Assets Limited has been given consideration for the project. The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission has to give the concession certificate; while the lenders and investors have to ensure that all the details are properly worked out. We have now got all the relevant approvals.”
Oyinloye, who said the TIB was just a facilitator of the project, noted that what had been done on the road so far was early work, adding that upon the conclusion of the funding arrangement, the reconstruction would move at a higher pace.
Contrary to insinuation that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari might not be comfortable with the details of the project as approved by the administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, the TIB managing director said the new administration was happy with the project, especially the fact that the private sector would provide the bulk of the funding in view of dwindling government revenue occasioned by falling crude oil prices.
Our correspondents further gathered that the project would now be executed on a Build, Operate and Transfer basis, but that the details were still being worked on.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the oldest and busiest inter-state route in Nigeria, is a major artery connecting Lagos to other states of the federation. It was inaugurated in August 1978 during the military era, under the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo.