South-West Nigeria is one of the most culturally and economically vibrant regions of the country. However, as important as each state within the region is, equally important is how connected they are. This connection allows the free flow of commerce and trade, and road networks play a big part in that.
In some cases, you can measure the level of development within a city or region by the extent of its road network. Great road networks boost economic growth by connecting companies to each other, connecting suppliers to off-takers and connecting businesses to their customers. They also facilitate the transportation of raw materials and finished products from one destination to the other. When properly developed, road networks reduce transportation costs by shortening the amount of time and money people spend in transit.
One of the major roads connecting the South-West region of Nigeria is the Lagos - Ibadan Expressway, considered the country's busiest highway. It is also the major route to the northern, southern, and eastern parts of Nigeria. A considerable portion of it stretches from Lagos to Shagamu - measuring 43.6 kilometers long. That portion is currently under rehabilitation and reconstruction by Julius Berger.
As a significant part of Nigeria's road network, a tremendous amount of traffic flows through the Lagos to Shagamu expressway every day, including heavy load-bearing traffic, which can create a lot of wear and tear on roads. Therefore, the work being done must account for such transportation volumes. Julius Berger has catered to this need by developing an enhanced asphalt design based on findings from its parameter studies. This asphalt-mix design makes the expressway more durable to heavy load-bearing traffic.
The most recent count on this highway puts traffic flow at 40,000 vehicles per day. During peak hours, more than 3,000 vehicles ply the road per hour. These figures have increased significantly in recent years, with the construction of new townships, residential developments, and industrial complexes. The Lagos-Shagamu Expressway is also home to the camp venues of religious organizations like the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM), and Deeper Christian Life Ministry (DCLM), among many others.
Julius Berger has developed and implemented a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) to ease the flow of traffic. This includes setting up a 24-hour emergency response system and cutting down response time by establishing lines of communication between various emergency response and traffic management agencies. It also includes maintaining traffic diversions where necessary and clearing traffic accidents at different locations with speed.
The project's scope, which currently provides close to 600 construction jobs, includes expanding the highway to three lanes on both sides of the road, maintaining and constructing ten pedestrian bridges and three new flyovers, constructing a new drainage system, and upgrading four underpasses. It is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2022.
Back in 2006, Sir Rod Eddington did a comprehensive report on the impact of transport infrastructure on the economy for the UK government. We can apply some of its learnings to our local context. This report concluded that a country's transport system could be a catalyst for continued productivity and competitiveness. It also said that a five per cent decrease in business travel time on the UK's roads could lead to a £2.5 billion reduction in wasted business costs. Applying this to a local context, we can safely conclude that investing in road infrastructure with the simple aim of reducing the amount of time that people spend in transit will improve Nigeria's overall productivity.
Julius Berger has been in the business of connecting Nigeria for over 50 years, especially within the South-West region. Its first major project in Nigeria was in 1965 when it was awarded the contract for constructing the "Second Mainland Bridge", now known as Eko Bridge. The company also delivered the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge, in 2013 as well as the ring road system around the city center on Lagos Island in 1975, among other iconic projects. The company is also responsible for building several roads and infrastructural projects around the country, contributing massively to Nigeria's economic prosperity and ensuring the continuous movement of people, resources, and ideas.
Prince Duku is Head of Media Relations Office of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc,