The first phase of the reconstruction and upgrading of the Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway has now been completed and delivered, with the infrastructure formally opened to vehicular traffic.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was, on Wednesday, accompanied by joyful residents to commission the 18.75-kilometre long stretch from Eleko to Epe T-Junction, turning a two-lane rural roadway to a six-lane rigid concrete carriageway.
The construction feat marked a significant improvement in the effort to redevelop the rural road, built over 40 years ago. Before reconstruction, the infrastructure was in decrepit shape due to upsurge in average daily traffic volumes, subjecting road users to delay and hardship.
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The road upgrade to six lanes, with streetlights installation and dedicated tracks for trailers, has changed the narrative and brought a huge relief to motorists plying the route.
After inaugurating the completed first phase of the road, Sanwo-Olu immediately flagged off the second phase of the road project, which will extend the construction from Eleko axis to Abraham Adesanya Roundabout.
The Governor, however, said the project’s second phase would be done in two segments for ease of funding and to reduce the traffic impact of the construction work on commuters.
The 18.6km first segment, Sanwo-Olu said, would take off from Eleko to Awoyaya and to critical sections around Majek and Ogidan. Second segment, which is 11km, will kick off at Ogidan to Abraham Adesanya Roundabout.
The Governor said the development marked another effort by his administration at investing in infrastructure that would impact positively on the socio-economic well-being of the residents.
Before the intervention, Sanwo-Olu said the expressway was in critical condition, creating agony for travellers and causing pain in the movement of goods and services.
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He said: “Inauguration of this road project we are opening today is coming after 40 years the infrastructure was originally constructed as a rural cross-section without drain. Our administration flagged off the reconstruction and upgrading of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway from the existing two-lane to a three-lane dual carriageway with a reinforced concrete pavement and with a lane in each direction dedicated for trucks to accommodate the envisaged axle loads.
“This event does not only mark the opening of Phase 1 of the project, we are also flagging off the commencement of the Phase 2 of the work. The entire project will set the Lekki-Epe corridor on the path of socio-economic prosperity and progress. This corridor is fast emerging as an urban economic hub. The growth must come with infrastructure investment that will support the development. The infrastructure will not only bring relief to residents plying the road, it will also ease the transportation of goods, while encouraging industrial development in the Lekki Free Zone.”
Sanwo-Olu urged residents to take ownership of the infrastructure, asking them to protect its facilities from vandals in order to continue to serve them.
He expressed appreciation to the Ibeju Lekki residents and Community Development Associations (CDAs) for their unflinching support and cooperation throughout the construction period of the first stretch.
The governor also used the opportunity to appeal to motorists on the axis to be patient, given the perennial traffic being experienced along the Lekki-Epe Expressway occasioned by the ongoing construction of the project’s Phase 2 and the work on Regional Road.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, said the Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway was long overdue for upgrading, given its deplorable condition that reduced journey from 35 minutes to over four hours.
She said the commuters’ pains were compounded by upsurge in activities of Lekki recently commissioned Deep Sea Port, Dangote Refinery and other multinational businesses sites around the Lekki Free Trade Zone corridor.
Adeyoye said repairs hitherto carried out on the carriageway only delivered short-term and could no longer be sustainable, justifying the need for permanent solution to address drainages, outfalls and weariness.
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She said: “The reconstruction of the Lekki-Epe Expressway is, no doubt, a laudable project that will impact positively the lives of residents, eliminate traffic gridlocks, drastically reduce the travel time of commuters, and businesses as well as improve the socio-economic activities around the axis. I, therefore, implore us all as stakeholders to take ownership of it and be wary of vandals by carefully guarding it so it can continue to serve us as long as we so desire.
Chairman of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area, Hon. Abdullah Olowa, said the delivery of the first phase of the infrastructure had started changing residents’ agonising story, praising Sanwo-Olu for heeding the calls for restoration and expansion of the road.
The council boss said the project would further strengthen the historical bond between Ibeju Lekki indigenes and Epe people.
A fisherman and regular road user, Alani Bello, said: “The road had been impassable for many years, because of the pressure on it. We usually planned our journey ahead due to the gridlock. With the reconstruction of the road to six-lane, we now enjoy some relief, even though the work is yet to complete.”