This so-called Lekki-Epe expansion project is a FRAUD as we maintain that if 2 kilometers work, according to LCC has already gulped N5 billion, it is logical to conclude that the remaining 42 kilometers will cost a whooping sum of N105 billion and that is on the assumption that exchange rate remains the same and there are no variations in the bills of quantities.
The Fraud Called Toll Collection On Lekki-Epe Expressway
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF LEKKI AND AJA (COROLA) Corola20@yahoo.com
When we expressed our disenchantment on the Lekki-Epe Expressway expansion project in an advertorial in this Weekly (Island News) about three weeks ago, we were not ignorant of the fact that some people, especially the contractor handling the project, Messrs Lekki Concession Company (LCC) and its allied stakeholders would have taken us for some ‘disgruntled elements’ as commonly used in our country even where they are saying the obvious.
In any case, we make bold to state that we are indeed disgusted about everything concerning the so-called expansion project. Rather than rise up and address all or some of the issues raised in our advertorial under reference, we are disappointed to see LCC re-affirming in the Island News of March 15, 2010, the need to commence toll collection in May 2010. If we may ask, what is the urgency about toll collection in a 44-kilometer road, out of which only a 2-kilometer stretch has been completed?
It is laughable and inconsistent with global standard practice to hear that a road concessioning assignment with a life span of 30 years is already attracting toll collection when only 5% of work has been done. LCC obviously knows that this is fraudulent because expectedly, the period from commencement to completion, which in this case, would have been from 2006 to 2009, should ordinarily be taken as gesticulation or ‘test-run’ period. The toll collection would therefore, have started after completion and that is again, if there is even any need for it, given the social responsibility nature of the project on the part of Lagos State Government. However, as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal, it may be expedient to reason that LCC will device a means to recoup its investment but we hasten to conclude quite emphatically that erecting 3 toll plazas on a 44-kilometer road is nothing but a FRAUD. And, for 30 years! If anything, one toll plaza at a very strategic point that does not offer escape route would have been ideal. Here again, our point has been re-emphasized that LCC did not appear to have a helicopter analysis of the entire project before embarking on it. Otherwise, how can it explain the hardship and ‘holes’ it will create in motorists’ pockets by collecting fees from 3 toll plazas for 30 years.
Whilst we are not in any way fooled by LCC’s claim that the project nay toll plazas will help to “provide sustainable solutions to the challenges brought about by heavy traffic congestion along Lekki area”, we wish to align with the refined opinion of the Eti-Osa Heritage Group to the effect that “the proposal to increase the round-abouts along the road is a faulty concept in the road’s design.” They further explained that it “contradicts the very essence of the road expansion as the presence of 3 toll plazas and about 10 round-abouts will obviously slow down, rather than accelerate vehicular movement.” Eti-Osa Heritage Group is only a socio-cultural group and not a Construction Giant. Then, it behoves us to begin to realize, though belatedly and unfortunately too, that this so-called Lekki-Epe expansion project is a FRAUD as we maintain that if 2 kilometers work, according to LCC has already gulped N5 billion, it is logical to conclude that the remaining 42 kilometers will cost a whooping sum of N105 billion and that is on the assumption that exchange rate remains the same and there are no variations in the bills of quantities. The warning in our previous advertorial still stands. We are fine-tuning. We will resist any hardship or difficulties that we are being deliberately subjected to by LCC. The toll collection in May is unacceptable for now as it is unfair to all motorists on the Lekki-Epe expressway. LCC must re-think now!
LEKKI-EPE EXPRESSWAY EXPANSION RIGHT NOW A CURSE!
We have noted with dismay that the purported dividend of democracy as it concerns the expansion of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, which understandably would help ease the perennial traffic logjam, is now causing more problems than it had set out to address. It is very disheartening to note the following:
1. That a 44-kilometer road expansion programme which was originally scheduled to be completed within a period of three years from 2006 to 2009, still has not gone beyond a 2-kilometer mark. The contractor, Lekki Concession Company (LCC) says the two kilometer work has cost them N5billion.
2. That, instead of the expansion of the road to further help open up the Lekki-Epe axis, it is rather helping to dwindle the economy of the axis as values of property are depreciating at an alarming rate whilst man-hours loss as a result of the horrendous traffic logjam leaves much to be desired. Let us say here loud and clear, businesses are collapsing.
3. That health hazards such as cardiac arrest and hypertension are increasingly causing death of residents and commuters as a result of the daily stress they experience on the road, and this is better imagined than expressed. The contractor is fiddling while homes burn! People are dying!
4. That the occasional statements on ‘project progress’ by the construction company, LCC are appreciated but we make haste to state that LCC should concern itself with the speedy completion of work and not explanatory advertorials as there is no juxtaposition whatsoever between 2 kilometers completed in four years and the whole stretch of 44 kilometers that should have been completed by now.
5. That we are of the impression that LCC either has issues of internal governance which are being concealed from the public and therefore, slow down pace of work; or that its claim of efficiency and capability is suspect as we will not accept the inexcusable reason of the absence of fund since the project abinitio ,is on a BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) basis.
6. That the recent statement by LCC that collection of tolls on the road will commence in May, would be challenged, because in the first place, there is no basis for a toll gate since the State Government, also allegedly spent about N7.7 billion on a 2-kilometer road on Western Avenue on the mainland.
7. That the current alternative diversion for commuters appears not to be well thought out before making it public as commuters now go through “hell”.
In the light of the foregoing, we would like LCC to categorically address the issues raised herein with a view to providing the road-map for the way forward because if we maintain the current pace of work, the expected date of completion of the remaining 42 kilometers will be the year 2024.
We also wish to warn that if these issues are not addressed, sooner than later, there will be a series of action we will take including litigation, demonstrations and organized blockade of the entire road by all aggrieved residents and commuters.
For: CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF LEKKI & AJAH (COROLA)
1. Salami ‘Seyi Oderinde 2. Zack Okechukwu Maduka
3. Akhilele Eriamantor 4. Diepreye Omubor