Worried over the slow pace of work on about 524 road and bridge projects in the country, Nigerians are calling on the central authority to ensure adequate funding for speedy completion. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
t is important to note that every state in the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has at least three ongoing road and bridge projects.
Among these, President Mohammadu Buhari, in a letter to Nigerians on New Year day, said that 47 of these road projects and bridges had been scheduled for completion in 2020/21.
Elated by the president’s letter, some stakeholders in built environment said that government would only achieve the feat set for 2020 if it backs the road projects with enough funds for completion.
They want govenmenrt to ensure that contractors are not starved of funds for speedy completion of these projects. considering the paltry allocation to work ministry in 2020 budget.
According to a former President, Nigeria Institute of Building, Mr. Chucks Omeife, if government should finance the 47 road projects to completion by the end of the year, the singular effort would have positive implications on the economy.
“If the road projects are well funded for completion, the multiplier effects will be enormous. Local construction companies will benefits, local building materials and sand suppliers will benefit, and there will be money in circulation with positive effects on the economy,” he said.
However, he raised possers concerning how government would raise funds for the project completion when its indebtedness to local contractors is in billions of naira.
If local contractors are not being engaged in some of these projects , he said there was no way the economy would benefit as expatriates will ensure they repatriate profits back to their home countries.
He advised government to ensure that local contractors benefit from these projects for economic growth.
“Instead of allowing them bringing in materials and workers from China, Nigerian government should look at this issue for the benefit of Nigerians, “he said.
The incubent NIOB president, Mr Kunle Awobodu, wants government to monitor strictly the road being constructed under the tax credit initiative to ensure quality completion.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had said that road projects on priority list of government included 27 financed with Sovereign SUKUK Fund, 47 scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021 and others.
Some of the projects scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021 and other priority projects, according to him, are the rehabilitation of Alesi-Ugep (Iy in Cross River State, construction of Yenegwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road; completion of rehabilitation of Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhiom Old Road, Uromi, Edo State; rehabilitation of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road in (Section i) and Odukpani-Itu Bridge Head in Cross River State; construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with a bridge across the Opobo Channel, in Rivers State; rehabilitation of Odukpani Junction-Akpet Central Section of Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja Road in Cross River State;, rehabilitation of Oshogbo-Ilesha Road in Osun State; dualization of Abeokuta-Ibadan Road, and reconstruction of Apapa-Wharf Road in Lagos State, among others.
Giving reasons for the prioritisation of the 80 projects, the minister explained that they would improve the ease of doing business in the country.
He said: “The projects on completion will bring about reduced travel time, lower vehicle operating costs and improve the comfort of road users as well as improve the ease of doing business in the country and ultimately boost the Nigerian economy.”
He noted that federal roads and bridges (categorised from A1 to A9) were major arterial routes that connect all states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory, adding that the routes and bridges linked cities with high economic activities and carry majority of heavy goods vehicles which gradually dispersed through the link routes to different parts of the country.
The minister of works said that Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Abeokuta, Lagos-Badagry and Ikorodu -Shagamu road projects ha been revived, urging Nigerians to bear with government.
Considering the prolonged gridlock on Apapa-Oshodi and Apapa-wharf expressways in Lagos occasioned by bad roads and articulated trucks, the Federal Executive Council approved the road project rehabilitation last year for N73billion to Dangote Group through strategic partnership.
It was done by the Federal Government under an executive order, known as Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme. It allows private companies to construct federal roads across the country and be repaid in the form of tax credits.
Apparently impressed by the progress of the ongoing reconstruction of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki expressway, Fashola and the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who jointly inspected the project, also assured Nigerians of final delivery of the road project by December 2020.
The duo said the entire road network would be completed, adding that it would last more than 40 years, being a quality concrete road.
Fashola and Dangote also predicted boom in the economy of Apapa, Lagos and Nigeria in general when the road project is finally delivered.
Dangote said: “By the quality of work on the road, many businesses that left Apapa will likely return because the entire road network has being rebuilt.
“The road will actually open up the economy. It will bring a lot of jobs, and a lot of businesses that already moved out willNJ start returning.”
He recalled that due to the bad road and gridlock, two of his companines lost N25 billion between 2017 and 2018.
He expressed gratitude to President Mohammadu Buhari for the timely road intervention, saying that was the reason his company was working day and night to ensure the road is delivered as scheduled.
Fashola described the road project as a “strategic economic intervention” by the government, pointing out that materials that are being used(cement and granites) were sourced locally.
The minister said: “This is good for keeping the cement factory growing by employing people. We heard from the controller earlier that 5,000 trucks of aggregates have moved from quarry to the site. This requires drivers, loaders, trucks, tyres. This is the underlying economy apart from 650 people who are employed in actual construction.
“So if President Buhari says he is going to lift 100 million people out of poverty, this is one of the ways. We want to see some of the young people aborting the road and get back to work.”
The minister of works pointed out that by the reason of the road’s construction, businesses were already coming back to Liverpool and Creek Roads, Apapa, assuring that more would still come.
He said: “We expect to see property development and property renewal once the road is completed.
“When the economy of Apapa returns, all the clearing, forwarding, newspaper people doing business will come back, the economy will come back with cheer prosperity. “
Fashola, while expressing satisfaction on the work done by the contractor, Hi-Tech, said that section two of the road at Apapa port, which was not part of the contract would now be integrated to change it from old bituminous pavement to concrete.
“We will rethink our strategies and include section ll into the contract so that there is continuous road network built of concrete from Apapa port’s entrance to the toll gate,” the minister said
He stated that one side of the road already completed around Oshodi had been opened to traffic, while the other side was closed to allow the concrete to cure, saying this process would take 28 days.
Lagos Ibadan expressway
It was not surprised at the weekend when staff of the construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, handling the Lagos -Shagamu segment of the road project, trooped to the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christians Church of God, during the first Holy Ghost Service of the year last Friday, seeking divine power and enablement to complete the project.
The General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, later called them out specially for prayers and asked congregants to point their hands towards them by prayimg to God for speeddy completion of the project by December 2020.
Julius Berger and Reynoid Construction Company are making progress on the entire route.
Prioritized road projects being funded through the Sovereign SUKUK Fund, Fashola said, included Abuja-Abaji road (section 1, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport link road, Abuja-Lokoja Road Section IV (Koton Karfi-Lokoja), Dualisation of Obajana Junction-Benin Phase 2: Section 1 (Obajana Junction to Okene) , Construction of Oju/Loko-Oweto Bridge to Link Loko and Oweto with approach roads, Reconstruction of Bida-Lambata Road in Niger State and dualisation of Suleja-Minna Road Phase 11 in Niger State.
They also include Kano-Maiduguri Road (Section ii, iii and iv), rehabilitation of outstanding section of Onitsha-Enugu Expressway: Amansea-Enugu State border, dualization Of Obajana junction-Benin Phase 2: (Section ii, iii and iv), rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt Road Section IV, Aba-Port Harcourt, and dualisation Of Yenegwe road junction-Kolo-Otuoke-Bayelsa Palm (20km).
Others include dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin (Section ii) in Oyo State, reconstruction of the outstanding Sections of Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Shagamu expressway Phase iii, pavement strengthening and asphalt overlay of Ajebandele- Ijebu Ode-Shagamu Road in Ogun State.
More road projects should be concessioned to private companies on tax credit basis to accelerate infrastructure renewal in the country.