Funding for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is captured in the 2016 budget and the road will be constructed despite court injunctions against its further development, the Federal Government has said.
It argued that the development of the country and the lives of the citizens should not be held in abeyance because of a court case or injunctions.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday, also noted that the Federal Government would pay more attention to developing roads that carried heavy vehicular traffic across once the budget was signed into law.
When asked if the government would consider giving out the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to a new concessionaire, Fashola stated that the funding for constructing the road had already been captured in the 2016 budget.
He said, “The Lagos-Ibadan road as you know is now the subject of a court case. Injunctions have been obtained to stop the arrangement put in by the last administration to finance the road with the private sector. And an injunction was granted by a court in Nigeria saying that nobody should raise money or finance the development of the road.
“Thankfully, there’s no injunction against the government building its road yet, and I hope there will be none. So, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is part of what we put in the budget this year. However, I got a message last night (Monday) from one of the lawyers suggesting to me that the action has been dismissed. But this was late last night. So, these are some of the problems that we see, when people write and get court orders to stop development.
“At the end of the day, in a contract, the main remedy that the law recognises is damages for breach of contract; of course, you know I am a lawyer. But why should the developmental process of Nigeria and the lives of Nigerians be held in abeyance because you are in court?”
Fashola reiterated that the amount needed to complete the over 200 roads that had been awarded was about N2tn, adding that the government would make sure that every road get some level of attention.
He said, “The strategy I recommend is let’s take the roads that carry the heaviest traffic and phase them. Phase one should be done this year and finished or taken to near completion. Next year, phase two; third year, phase three; and in each phase, let us ensure that at least every geopolitical zone of the country gets something.
“But there are some roads that are more compelling than others, and my classic case is the Ilorin-Jebba road. That road is the lifeline for agriculture as it ensures a lot of supply between the North and the South. So, our stand is to focus on those kind of roads that carry the heaviest number of vehicles and that carry critical services, which other departments rely on to survive.”
On whether the government would fund road construction strictly from the budget, the minister said, “Essentially, we can do most of those roads because we proposed a budget of N433bn for the three combined ministries. And our plan is to use N68bn for roads, N99bn for power and N66bn for housing.”
This is just as a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday rejected the prayer by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to dismiss a suit filed by Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited seeking to halt the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Bi-Courtney had filed the suit in 2012 to challenge the termination of the concession contract awarded to it by the Federal Government for the construction of the road.
The company contended that the fresh concession purportedly granted to Motorway Assets Limited through The Infrastructure Bank did not go through any due process.
The AGF had on November 3, 2015 filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging Bi-Courtney’s locus standi to file the suit.