By Bolaji Odumade
Infrastructure development is critical to achieving human capital development in any society. The economic impact that infrastructure improvement has on nation building cannot be over-emphasised. The growth of any country’s economy hugely depends on the status of its infrastructure. The dearth of needed infrastructure in a given society places serious limitation on human capital development.
It is in view of its crucial role to achieving rapid economic growth that advanced nations of the world commit huge investment to infrastructural development. J.F. Kennedy, a former President of the United States of America, USA, once put the relationship between infrastructure development and economic prosperity into a proper perspective when he affirmed that “America has good roads, not because America is rich, but America is rich because it has good roads.”
Where it is readily available, infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, ease the pace of economic development and social interaction. This explains why the World Bank, since 2002, has been prioritizing the construction and rehabilitation of over 260,000 kilometre roads above other vital sectors such as education, health and social services. In truth, the sustainability of other sectors largely depends on the quality of roads in a given society.
It is in view of the indispensability of quality and accessible roads to social-economic development that the administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in Lagos State has accorded road construction and rehabilitation utmost consideration in the scheme of things.
This, of course, is not surprising since a major pledge of Governor Sanwo-Olu is to attain a ‘Greater Lagos’ through infrastructure development. In realization of the strategic role of transportation as a key driver of economic development, the Sanwo-Olu administration made Traffic Management and Transportation a foremost part of its T.H.E.M.E.S (acronyms for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21ST Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security) Developmental Agenda.
Presently, the prospect of a 4th Mainland Bridge is getting brighter as eight out of the over 30 firms that expressed interest in the project have been shortlisted, while a stakeholder forum was recently held on the project. Also, the Oshodi-Abule-Egba BRT Corridor has been completed and commissioned for public use, while the Pen Cinema Bridge is nearing completion.
Similarly, the junctions’ improvement projects at Allen Avenue, Maryland, Ikotun and Lekki among others have been completed. A major highlight of our intervention in roads was the commissioning of 31 network of roads at Ojokoro area of the state.
The Sanwo-Olu administration promptly moved to complete the roads in order to relieve residents of the agony brought about by perennial traffic gridlock in the area. The street lightings were resuscitated and have started making positive impact on security, night life and the local economy. The opening of the roads has greatly helped in reducing travel time along Lagos-Abeokuta corridor.
In a bid to sustain current efforts at improving road infrastructure across the state, the Sanwo-Olu administration recently flagged-off the reconstruction and upgrade of the 40-year-old Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway.
No doubt, the Lekki axis has become a major industrial and commercial hub in the state and, indeed, the country. The Lekki Free Zone, the Dangote Refinery, the Lekki Dry Seaport to mention but a few are all sited at the zone.
Considering economic viability of the axis, the reconstruction of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway would certainly aid socio-economic activities in the zone, thereby giving investors better value for their money.
That the state government is embarking on such project in-spite of the economic recession, dwindling financial resources occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the most recent unwarranted violence unleashed on government infrastructure by the hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest, testifies to the unalloyed commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration to the provision of sustainable road infrastructure throughout the State.
Speaking during the flag-off of the first phase of the road project at a ceremony held recently at the Pan African University in Eleko, Ibeju Lekki area, Governor Sanwo-Olu said that the phase, which will be completed in 20 months, covers 18.75 kilometers, stretching from Eleko to T-Junction in Epe.
The road was constructed in 1981 as a single carriageway, but underwent an upgrade to a two-lane carriageway in 2006. Its condition, however, became deplorable as a result of population growth and increased vehicular traffic.
With the latest intervention by the Sanwo-Olu administration, the entire stretch of the road from Eleko to Epe would be dualised on rigid pavement, with three lanes on each side. A lane on each side will be dedicated as toll weighbridges only for heavy-duty vehicles.
As earlier affirmed, the Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe corridor is strategically important to the state’s economic prosperity, hence the completion of the project would further strengthen his administration’s commitment to inclusive development.
In view of current development and realities, especially ’Alaro City’ Lekki Free Trade Zone among other Public Private Partnership projects going on in the area, there no doubt that a new Lagos is sure to birth from Epe division of Lagos State.
Meanwhile, residents and commuters are urged to give the state government and the contractors handling the project maximum cooperation in ensuring that it is completed ahead of the 20-month deadline for the first phase.
*Odumade is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja