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Tinubu’s firm stops work on roads over rift with Ambode

• Hitech withdraws workers, equipment from sites
• Projects ongoing, state official affirms, blames rains

The ongoing road construction in Lagos State could be the latest casualty in the political battle between Governor Akinwumi Ambode and All Progressives Congress National Leader Bola Tinubu.

Ambode’s ambition to retain his seat in the next election has come under attack from powerful interests affiliated to the leader and former state governor. Two former commissioners, Mr. Femi Hamzat and Jide Sanwo-Olu, have obtained nomination forms to contest the party’s ticket in the coming direct primary scheduled to hold September 25.

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Sanwo-Olu, a former commissioner of commerce and industry, is said to be enjoying the backing of Tinubu and the Mandate Group. At his formal declaration, yesterday, Sanwo-Olu praised the achievements of former military governor, Brig. Mobolaji Johnson, and former governor, Babatunde Fashola, saying their strides contributed to the prosperity of Lagos.

While the conflict within the ruling APC in Lagos plays out, work at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Road and Pen Cinema Bridge in Agege has come to a suspicious halt, as the contractor, Messrs Hitech Construction Company Limited, has left the sites.Sources close to the firm, though, blamed the development on the non-payment of fees by the government. About N20 billion is said to still be outstanding. Tinubu allegedly owns substantial stakes in the construction company and wields great influence over it.

An investigation by The Guardian showed that major equipment has been removed. At Airport Road, specifically, some of the workers were seen moving out their luggage. Following their withdrawal, many miscreants yesterday filled the void, controlling traffic along the unfinished stretch. The Guardian learnt that the state government has scheduled a meeting with Hitech today .Efforts to speak with the managing director of the firm were unsuccessful.

The assistant director, public affairs, of the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Shina Thorpe, however said, “We were there two Fridays ago for inspection and you would see that the service lane has been finished to a point. And don’t forget that with the rains, there is no way they can work. The rains have to subside. If they do any work in the rain, they would have to do it over again. So, work has not stopped on the project.”

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On the alleged non-payment of the contractor, he explained: “There are payment schedules and the state government is working with those schedules. You don’t expect the government to pay everything without the work completed. Government is working with the payment schedules.”Both reconstructions were expected to end notorious gridlocks and scale up property in the area. The Lagos State government had promised to deliver the Oshodi-Airport Road in 15 months. It was to be upgraded from four to 10 lanes. Work commenced on September 2017. The Agege Pen Cinema Bridge had a December 2018 completion date.

Victor Gbonegun

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