Since the past couple of weeks when Lagos government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a consortium of investors for the building of the much talked about 4th Mainland Bridge in the state, it has been one commendation after another for the state government for what many say, is an ambitious and bold step by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.
Construction and building industry experts are not left out, though some of them have expressed reservations, saying that given the framework and the time frame of the project completion, there should be more to it than have been earlier revealed to members of the public.
Bode Adedeji, former president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), says there should be wider spread of stakeholder-participation or involvement in the project given its size and the cost implication.
The bridge is to be built through public, private partnership (PPP) and, under this arrangement, the investors are expected to commence and complete the construction of the bridge between 2016 and 2021, and then manage and operate it from 2021 to 2061, a period of 40 years.
The consortium consists of Visible Assets Limited, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Access Bank, Hi-Tech Construction, JP Morgan, Eldorado Nigeria Limited and Julius Berger Plc. They would be expected to build and operate the bridge over a period of 40 years, thereafter hand over to the government of Lagos State under enabling legal frameworks agreeable to the parties.
The project had been long over-due, but looking at the proposal, my only wish is that the government is going to be able to implement it within the framework and time frame of its implementation. That is a gigantic project that needed a wider spread of stakeholder-participation including the federal government”, Adedeji said in an interview with Businessday.
He reasoned that Putting together just one or two banks and other investors to do a 38-kilometer 4th mainland bridge that will cost N844 billion required more than has been done or said, adding however that “looking at it from a professional angle, I think we must endorse the project; we must co-operate with the government to get it done and the government itself must widen the scope of participation in the project”.
Looking back to the past 12 months of President Muhammadu Buhari and the change that was expected, Adedeji Said that everybody expected change to happen, but the circumstances that would have brought that change have altered based on what the present government met on ground.
The change Nigerians expect, he said, should be more fundamental than many think, stressing that what Nigeria is fighting was not corruption, but cultural meltdown and “until we address the issue of simultaneous crisis of economic and cultural meltdown, we may not see the change we expect; we will simply go back to square one”.
According to him, change must start from the individuals before it gets to government level. “What we have to do as a nation and as professionals is to interrogate the change we are talking about. The change has to start from all levels of the society before it gets to government level”, he advised.
Continuing, he said, “If you look at various aspects of our lives and even our professional practice, nothing has changed. For instance, a landlord whose rent was N4 million four years ago still wants N4 million today and, I tell you those are the people still living in the past and therefore, resisting change”.
He lamented that the property market was already bad but has to get worse before it could see light at the end of the tunnel. “Looking at the market today, we are likely to see two scenarios and one of them is where landlords want any form of rent but there are no up-takers. This is because many people have lost their jobs, and if a man and a woman lose their job, the first victims are the landlords because a man who has not been able to eat can’t be talking about paying house rent”, he noted.