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Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: Foreign contractors demand FG guarantee

By on March 7, 2012

The leader of the South African contractors partnering Bi-Courtney Highway Services to reconstruct the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Group Five, has demanded a firm commitment from the Federal Government on how to recoup their investment when the project is finally completed.

Although Bi-Courtney has sealed a deal with the foreign partners, including the sharing of approved toll proceeds to defray the cost of construction, Group Five is said to be jittery following the controversy that almost stalled the collection of tolls on the Lekki-Epe Expressway by the concessionaire, Lekki Concession Company.

Residents along the Lekki-Epe Expressway had last December protested the introduction of tolling by the Lagos State Government and the concessionaire after the completion of the first phase of the road expansion and modernisation project.

They also dragged the state government and LCC to court and the face off did not abate until alternative routes were provided.

The Chairman, Bi-Courtney Highways, Dr. Wale Babalakin, according to a source at the company, has forwarded the request of the South African firm to the Presidency as a fresh condition before the proper commencement of work on the highway.

The indication came on Monday after a committee set up by the President Goodluck Jonathan to review the entire concession agreement had recommended that Bi-Courtney should be allowed to continue with the project.

Babalakin had last year given an assurance that the road would be delivered in three years as scheduled, stressing that work would commence as soon as the rainy season ended.

The reconstruction of the road was given to Bi-Courtney in 2009.

Although the company has been doing some remedial work on bad portions of the road, work proper is said to be delayed due to inadequacies in the project design and inability of the concessionaire to promptly secure funding.

A statement signed by the spokesman of the company, Mr. Dipo Kehinde, said the project would now be financed by Rand Merchant Bank of South Africa.

He gave other partners on the project as Vela VKE (supporting engineers and consultants); Project Management International (construction experts); and Yola Consultants.

The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, who in November received the partners led by Babalakin in Abuja, had said, “It is a project that is very important to us in the country, considering the busy nature of the road, which records about 3,000 vehicles per hour. It is the foremost dual carriageway in the country. It is, therefore, important for us to start work on time.”

When contacted on the latest development, Kehinde said he had no comment.