The Federal Ministry of Works, headed by former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, is frustrating the reconstruction of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport Road into Oshodi, his successor said on Tuesday.
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was speaking to Government House Correspondents at the Lagos House, shortly after carrying out an extensive inspection of some critical projects in the State, according to a statement by Habib Aruna, his Chief Press Secretary.
He said the State Government presently has a design for the reconstruction of the road as well as the funds to embark on the project but the Federal Government was yet to grant approval.
The Governor said: “The road linking Oshodi to the International Airport, you would all agree with me, is a national embarrassment. In the spirit of the regeneration and urbanisation that this administration has set out to achieve, we believe strongly that the image that is exhumed by the decadence of that road must be repaired, and we took it upon ourselves to appropriate the 2017 budget that the House of Assembly should approve the total reconstruction of the Airport Road from Oshodi to the International Airport.
“The State currently has a design of 10 lanes to come from Oshodi to the International Airport with interchange and flyover that would drop you towards the Local Airport. The contractor is already set to go, and everything, as I said, has been completed, and we already have the cash, but alas we are having challenges with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. This is a Federal and not a State road. The Federal Ministry of Works believes that they should do the road, but they have not been able to do it all these years past.”
He lamented that despite the fact that the Federal Government was indebted to the State to the tune of N51billion, spent on repairing federal roads over the years, the State Government’s effort to immediately transform the Airport Road to a world class standard was being frustrated.
Governor Ambode said if given the approval, his administration was ready to hit the ground running and begin construction of the Airport Road within two weeks, and complete the project within six months.
Besides, the Governor also implored the Federal Government to avail the State of the N2billion appropriated for the Airport Road in the 2017 National Budget to carry out the project.
“I just want to remind Lagosians that before my becoming Governor, the Federal Ministry of Works has been owing Lagos State a total of N51billion as reimbursement for reconstruction that was carried out by the State Government on federal roads in the State.
He noted that what his government is asking for is, of course, not up to the N51billion the federal authorities owe Lagos State.
“I just want to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Works, to let go or reimburse us with whatever it is that they owe us and even if they are not willing to pay us now, we have the money to do it. It is a national disgrace, and we would not be part of it. We would like to do it as part of the celebration of Lagos at 50,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor also expressed frustration that six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the handover of the Presidential Lodge, Marina, the State Government was yet to gain access to the premises, adding that this was seriously frustrating the programs outlined for the Lagos @ 50 celebrations.
“One of the key venues that we need to celebrate the real essence of Lagos, the historic place that we refer to as Presidential Lodge is still more or less being tossed about concerning being handed over to us.
We believe strongly that by May 27, 2017, we should be able to invite Mr. President and other people who have actually made Lagos what is it today to that Presidential Lodge for the final Banquet and Dinner to mark Lagos at 50,” he said.
He appealed for the approval of the President to be honored by the agencies concerned: the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Security Services.
On the projects he inspected earlier, the Governor expressed satisfaction with the pace of work by the contractors, saying that they will be commissioned as part of the State’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
He also pointed out that his administration has fully paid compensation to owners of properties that had to give way for the Oshodi and Ojodu Berger regeneration projects, and concluded plans to pay property owners at Abule Egba within the next four weeks.
Among projects inspected include the Ojodu Berger regeneration project, Abule Egba Flyover Project and also the Aboru Abesan Link Road and Bridge Project.