As governor, I sat in Lagos traffic for three hours – Fashola

Photo credit: Sun Newspaper

The Minister for Power, Works, and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has appealed for patience as the ongoing rehabilitation along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway continues to bite hard on commuters.

During a phone call in response to a text message from a commuter worried about the traffic gridlock around the Arepo area of the expressway caused by the road repairs, Mr. Fashola said he had also sat in traffic for hours when he was a state governor.

PREMIUM TIMES could not ascertain the date Mr. Fashola made the phone call to the commuter.

“I understand your concern,” Mr. Fashola, who served as the governor of Lagos State between 2007 and 2015, was heard saying.

“Excuse me, there was a time we closed the Third Mainland Bridge for almost three months. I sat in traffic as governor every day for three hours. There is nothing we can do. Unless you say we should stop the work. It is for your own benefit. We can’t close the road, so we have to work. I understand what you are going through, I have been through it.”

Construction giant, Julius Berger, had begun repairs and extension work at the Long Bridge end of the expressway about five months ago, demarcating the road into two and causing heavy vehicular traffic for commuters.

Mr. Fashola said he was hopeful the works would be finished by December.

“That bridge can collapse,” he said.

“It hasn’t been maintained in almost 50 years. All the bearings under the bridge should be changed every five years but they haven’t done it for 50 years. Now I am there, I say this is the opportunity, let’s finish it, do it once and for all. This is going to cause a lot of pain, I understand that, but if you want to see some pleasure and prosperity, you must be ready to bear some pain too.

“I wish I could close the road and do it quicker but I can’t. The contractors too, I speak to them almost every day. All these text messages you send to me, I send it to them. And I don’t want to be a nuisance because they have explained and explained to me.”

 Transcript of the phone conversation:

Man: Hello, Good afternoon.

Fashola: Good afternoon. My name is Fashola. You sent me a text.

Man: Sorry, which Fashola is this?

Fashola: My name is Tunde Fashola. You sent me a text.

Man: Ah! Yes, sir. It was in respect to the Arepo road, the long bridge.

Fashola: I have explained to you that we know what the problem is and we are doing what we can given the challenges that we face. So I would like to know from you if there is something else we can do that you know that we are not doing.

Man: Now, going to Lagos, the road has been divided into two and it’s causing heavy traffic. So I expect that by now that Berger should have cleared the road to make it passable… to make it four-lane instead of the two-lane that we have. So once we have a breakdown on that two-lane, then the backlog of traffic will cause enormous traffic. Today, I spent two hours from Arepo to get to my office, and every day one begins to give excuse for…

Fashola: Are you aware the reason why they have diverted the roads?

Man: I’m aware, but they are not doing anything on that bridge again.

Fashola: That’s what you think, okay?

Man: But that’s what I can see.

Fashola: That doesn’t mean that no work is going (on) there. They can’t close a road and demarcate a road, once they move to a project site they demarcate the project area. Some of the work is being done off-site. They can’t open it and close it, construction doesn’t work like that. That is the problem.

Man: But I think the security people – the police, the FRSC – should help. It’s mad for us to spend hours in traffic, you have meetings you couldn’t meet your meetings just because they are repairing a portion of the road. That is just my own concern….

Fashola: I understand your concern. Excuse me, there was a time we closed the Third Mainland bridge for almost three months. I sat in traffic as governor everyday for three hours. There is nothing we can do. Unless you say we should stop the work. It is for your own benefit. We can’t close the road, so we have to work. I understand what you are going through, I have been through it.

Man: Today, for example, you see those danfo taking one-way and nobody can do anything about it.

Fashola: Excuse me. That’s not the fault of Julius Berger. That’s our own fault. If everybody is patient…

Man: That is what I’m saying. The FRSC can help in ensuring such doesn’t happen

Fashola: We put FRSC there.

Man: Sir, what’s the timeline that we are expecting that that road will be fully opened?

Fashola: We are hopeful that we will finish by December. That bridge can collapse. It hasn’t been maintained in almost 50 years. All the bearings under the bridge should be changed every five years but they haven’t done it for 50 years. Now I am there, I say this is the opportunity, let’s finish it, do it once and for all. This is going to cause a lot of pain, I understand that, but if you want to see some pleasure and prosperity, you must be ready to bear some pain too.

I wish I could close the road and do it quicker but I can’t. The contractors too, I speak to them almost every day. All these text messages you send to me, I send it to them. And I don’t want to be a nuisance because they have explained and explained to me.

Man: I was just frustrated this morning.

Fashola: Don’t be frustrated. Try to understand it. It’s an inconvenience. I don’t like it either. If the road collapses… Look, listen , you have to adjust your schedule. I adjusted my schedule as governor. I used to sit on that road from Western Avenue all the way to Alausa every day. We just have to be patient.

Man: Can they do some palliative repair on the other area, which they have done… the other side where they sell cows, we used to pass the place… the other side, the both ways if they can do some work there so that people can also…

Fashola: If you see a problem where we can intervene text it to me.

Via Premium Times

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