Amid litigations and dilly-dallying over the years, WALE AKINSELURE writes on the recent efforts by the Oyo State government to bring the long-talked-about 110 kilometres Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road to a reality.
More than ever, the long talked about construction of the 110 kilometres Ibadan Circular Road, now christened the Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road, is now taking shape under the Governor Seyi Makinde administration.
Envisioned in 2002 when the Lam Adesina administration constituted an inter-ministerial committee for the purpose of construction of the road, the realisation of the road has continued to elude successive administrations till date.
The road connects the Lagos-Ibadan expressway to the Ibadan-Ife expressway, thereby taking away some traffic congestion from Ibadan metropolis and hastening travel time out of Ibadan.
A major step towards actualising the project was in 2005 when the Senator Rashidi Ladoja administration awarded the contract for the survey of the road, followed by the evolution of the engineering design for the project. Ladoja stated that his administration commissioned the design for the project, paid compensation, concessioned it to two contractors: KOPEK and CECCC, and earmarked about N5 billion to start the project, but his removal from office reportedly delayed commencement of the project.
The contract for the construction of the road, which was divided into two phases, was awarded to two contractors by the administration.
Speaking on September 29, 2022 when Governor Seyi Makinde named the road after him, Ladoja said, “We were not asking them to do 110 kilometres at a time. And the money was diverted. I was told it was the money that was used to do the Molete to Mokola dualisation and the Mokola to Agodi Gate dualisation. That is how that dream, at that time, ended and nobody talked about it until the next governor came. The first thing was to start the project, the project is to cross Ife road, cross Iwo road and end at Akinyele interchange. We said with that, if we toll it, and with the money collected from tolling, we will be able to do the other parts.”
However, the project was later cancelled by Ladoja’s successor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, now late, upon assumption of office. The Alao-Akala administration substituted the project with new road dualisation projects in Ibadan, the state capital. And, the Ibadan Circular road project stayed at the ideation stage for years.
Dusting the files, the Abiola Ajimobi administration brought the idea back to life. At a well-attended ceremony in Badeku village, Ibadan, Ajimobi in June 2017, flagged-off the construction of the first phase of the road, with completion date set within 18 months. The 32.2 kilometres first phase, from the entire road length of 110 kilometres, was to be a four-lane, dual carriage motorway linking Lagos-Ibadan expressway to Ibadan-Ife highway at an estimated sum of N70 billion, under a Public-Private Partnership Build, Operate and Transfer model. The project that had ENL consortium as contractor had the following features listed: bridges, interchanges/flyovers, streetlights, security posts, filling stations and other road infrastructures. ENL consortium began work on the 32 kilometres project
However, the days of ENL consortium handling the project became numbered following the change of guard at the Agodi Government House on May 29, 2019. Governor Seyi Makinde, during a visit to the project site on October 31, 2019, ordered an immediate stoppage of work on the site.
Makinde hinged his proclamation on his dissatisfaction with the level of work done. Makinde said he was shocked that a project awarded since 2017 was still at about 5.5 percent completion stage, saying his administration would pull back and review the processes before deciding on the way forward. He said the Circular Road project was among infrastructure projects that were to be examined by a projects review committee.
The order halting the project was to be followed by a number of litigations against the Oyo State government and the contractor of the Seyi Makinde administration, SEL-Vydra consortium. Regardless of the contest in court, the new contractor, backed by the state government, proceeded to take over the site, though ENL Consortium remained adamant about moving away from the project site.
Makinde awarded the project for completion of the 110 kilometres road for N138.2 billion. The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state criticised the cost of the project awarded by the Makinde-led government, but the state government countered with the argument that N138.2 billion for the entire 110 kilometres stretch was a better bargain than N70 billion for 32 kilometres awarded by the Ajimobi-led government.
Not minding the ENL Consortium termination conundrum, Makinde, throughout his first term, consistently assured residents of the state that the 32 kilometres east wing of the road will be completed before the May 29, 2023 termination date that turned out to be the end of his first term, having received mandate for a second term. One of such events where Makinde assured of the completion of the Circular Road, including the renovation and remodelling of Agbowo shopping complex before May 29, 2023, was during the turning of the sod for construction of 360 housing units at Ajoda New Town Estate, Egbeda Local Government Area of the state, on September 23, 2020.
To provide the needed funding, the state executive council had, on July 22, 2020, approved the issuance of a N100 billion private bond tagged, “Oyo Prosperity Bond” to facilitate the execution of priority projects. The bond was to be raised in two tranches of N50 billion each with the Ibadan Circular Road, Ibadan Airport upgrade, Iseyin-Ogbomoso road listed as projects to be funded.
The East End Wing (32km) is being executed by Craneburg Construction Limited and comprises the construction of six bridges including two interchanges. This 32 kilometres stretch is one of the several other phases of the construction of the 110 kilometres road.
During his speech after taking oath for a second term in office on May 29, Makinde set for himself a new deadline to complete the Circular Road project before the end of his second term. He said, “We are also constructing the 110 kilometres Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road. We plan to complete the construction of this road with all ancillary amenities that will give our people a first-world transport experience on that route within this tenure.”
In line with his renewed promise, Governor Seyi Makinde, on July 1, inspected the East End Wing of the 110 kilometres Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road. Speaking after the inspection of the Circular Road and some other projects, the governor said, “Well, I will say so far, so good; there is still a lot of work to be done but we are making good progress. Even for the Circular Road, we have interested investors coming around to ask what exactly we are projecting in terms of the opportunities in Oyo State.”
Indeed, a visit to the project shows a work in progress. The present phase being done by Craneburg Construction Company, as awarded to it by the state government in March 2022, is the construction of six bridges including two interchanges. A visit to the site shows that the bridges are up in the locations specified in the survey for the work, barring some beams still to be cast for some bridges and some finishing and fixing. The bridges are located on the circular road alignment, with the distance from the first bridge to the sixth bridge put at about 31 kilometres. While the first bridge crosses the Ibadan-Lagos expressway, the sixth bridge links the Ibadan-Ife expressway. Two out of the six bridges were erected over two rivers, with one of the rivers being a big pathway for streams of water coming from different parts of Ibadan.
According to the project engineer for the Ibadan circular road bridges and interchanges, Mr Fadi Khalil, four of the bridges are 100 percent complete, while two bridges are each at 90 percent completion.
He said Craneburg will deliver all six bridges and interchanges by December this year, while it will be up to the state government to decide on when to fix the roads to link the bridges. Fadi said, “We have finished four bridges at 100 percent, another two bridges are each 90 percent. In one and a half months, everything will be done and all the bridges will be up. Nothing is delaying us. The next step is to make the final touch for the bridge as we know. The next step is depending on the government and if they are planning to do the Circular Road project. By the grace of God, we will deliver this project before December 2023, that is, the bridges and interchanges. I am not talking about the road. The road is a different project. We will deliver the bridges before December but not the road. Our plan is to hand over the bridges before December. The state government has given us 100 percent support. Our supervisor is the Ministry of Works.”
Though Fadi noted that six bridges were adequate for the road to be done, he noted that some more box culverts may need to be constructed to aid the flow of water in some locations on the road stretch.
Aside from the challenge of taking ownership as a result of the preceding legal tussle, the contractor has also had to grapple with erecting bridges to cross rivers, streets, roads, express roads and paving virgin lands. It also had the task of building bridges over rivers in areas which had only road access.
“To avoid the heavy water which rose to unimaginable levels, we divided our scope; we had diversions for water. We faced challenges initially but we have nothing to delay the delivery date,” Fadi said.
The countdown to the December delivery date for the bridges and interchanges has begun. The completion of the bridges and interchanges is a major step towards Ibadan joining the league of cities with circular roads like Central London which has the North Circular Road and South Circular Road form a ring around it.
Upon the expected completion of the bridges and interchanges by December, residents of the state hope that the Governor Seyi Makinde-led state government moves on to the next phase of building the road connecting the bridges to finally bring the long talked about Ibadan Circular Road, now Senator Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road, to a reality.