Linking Nigeria, connecting Africa – The Nation Newspaper

The Federal Government is working on 524 roads to link the country as well as intensifying efforts on road to connect the country with the rest of Africa. These projects are believed to hold the key to reversing the situation where the poor state of the road network is resulting in loss of billions of Naira in economic value and avoidable deaths, writes ROBERT EGBE

The 2017 World Bank Report was unflattering: only about 15 per cent of federal roads in Nigeria were in good condition.  Nigerians are unanimous in seeking an overhaul of the country’s infrastructure.

Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola is driving the presidential mandate of infrastructure renewal. No less than 524 road and bridge projects are ongoing nationwide. Fashola, in a presentation, named 80 of the projects on priority list to include the 27 financed with Sovereign SUKUK Fund, the 47 scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021, two roads leading to the ports and four major bridges.

The reason for the prioritisation of these projects, he explained, was to improve the ease of doing business in the country. He said the projects on completion would reduce travel time, lower vehicle operating costs and improve the comfort of road users. These federal roads and bridges are major arterial routes that connect all states in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory. They also link cities with high economic activities and carry majority of heavy goods vehicles, which gradually disperse through the link routes to different parts of the country.

Roads on the priority list include Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin-Jebba-Kotangora-Jega-Sokoto-Niger Border as A1, Warri-Benin-Lokoja-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano-Daura-Niger Border as A2, Port Harcourt-Aba-Umuahoia-Okigwe-)turkpo-Makurdi-Akwanga-Jos-Bauchi-Maiduguri-Gambori as A3 and Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala-Jalingo-Yola-Bama-Maiduguri as A4.

They also include Lagos-Otta-Abeokuta-Ibadan as A5, Onitsha-Ihiala-Owerri-A3 Junction at Umu Uyo as A6, Chikanda, Kosubosu-Kaiama Kioshi-Ilorin as A7, Mayo Belwa-Ganye-Serti-Mayo Selbe-Dambu as A8 and Jibiva-Katsina-Kano as A9.

Prioritised road projects being funded through the Sovereign SUKUK include Abuja-Abaji Road (Section 1, International Airport Link Road Junction-Sheda Village Junction), Abuja-Lokoja Road Section IV (Koton Karfi-Lokoja), Dualisation Of Obajana Junction-Benin Phase 2: Section 1 (ObajanaJunction To Okene) /C/, 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.

Theyalso 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 Dualization 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.

The minister listed some of the projects scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021 and other priority projects as the rehabilitation of Alesi-Ugep (Iyamoyung-Ugep) Section in Cross River State, construction of Yenegwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road and completion of rehabilitation of Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhiom Old Road, Uromi, Edo State. Also included are the rehabilitation of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot EkpeneRoad (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-AkpetCentral Section of Calabar-Ikom-OgojaRoad in Cross River State, rehabilitation of Oshogbo-Ilesha Road in Osun State, dualisation of Abeokuta-Ibadan Road, and reconstruction of Apapa-Wharf Road in Lagos State, among others.

The four bridges under the priority projects are construction of Ibi Bridge, completion of construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba State, construction of Ikom Bridge in Cross River State and emergency rehabilitation/maintenance of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, while the two roads prioritize are the construction of Agaie-Katcha-Barro Road in Niger State and construction of Baro Port to Gulu Town in Niger State.

Minister of Works and Housing

Record of ongoing road and bridge projects in states shows that Abia State has 12 ongoing projects, Adamawa nine, Akwa-Ibom nine, Anambra 19, Bauchi 12, Bayelsa six, Benue 17, Borno 17, Cross River 17, Delta 10, Ebonyi 4, Edo 22, Ekiti seven, Enugu 21 and Federal Capital Territory three. Also while Gombe has five ongoing projects, Imo has 11, Jigawa five, Kaduna 11, Kano 24, Katsina seven, Kebbi three, Kogi 13, Kwara 14, Lagos 23, Nassarawa seven, Niger 13, Ogun eight, Ondo seven, Ogun 12, Oyo 15, Plateau five, Rivers six, Sokoto eight, Taraba eight, Yobe 10 and Zamfara five.

The ministry is intervening at the University of Benin, where work is ongoing on the rehabilitation and asphalt overlay/construction of reinforced concrete drains and kerbs and asphaltic surfacing of three car parks of 1.1KM internal road. Similar work is also ongoing at the Bayero University, Kano State, Federal University Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State, University of Maiduguri, in Borno State, Federal University Lokoja, Kogi State, Federal College of Education, Katsina, Katsina State, Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Others include Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna State, patching of potholes of 0.3KM Internal Road at Federal University Gashua, Yobe State and rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of 2.3 km Internal Road at Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State, among others.

To complete the prioritised projects, an additional N255.6 billion is needed to close the funding gap for the projects. The amount, said the minister, is the difference between the appropriation for the project in the 2020 Budget, which stands N157.05 billion and the actual estimate for the completion of the projects which stands at N412.64 billion.

Trans Saharan route

Fashola is driving the effort to link the country with other parts of the continent. He laid bare the details at the 70th session of the Trans Saharan Route Liaison Committee on Monday, November 11, 2019. Representatives of member countries-Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Algeria, Niger Republic and Tunisia-converged on the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria to review the progress made on the construction of the 1,131 kilometres of roads which constitute the Nigerian portion of the 9,895 kilometres of roads that make up the Trans Saharan Route. Nigeria comes fourth by the number of roads hosted by each of the six member countries along the route

While Algeria hosts the longest stretch of that Route with 3,320 kilometres of roads, Mali comes second with 2,180 kilometres, while Niger Republic and Nigeria take the third and fourth places with 1,985 km and 1,131 kilometres respectively. Tunisia and Chad host the least with 699 km in Tunisia and 570 km in Chad. These roads make up a total of nine highways across the six countries with Nigeria hosting three of the highways. The first is the Lagos-Dakar Highway which leads from Lagos to Seme Border all the way to Dakar Senegal. The Second is the Lagos-Mombasa Highway which links Nigeria through Yaoundé in Cameroun all the way to Tunisia while the third is the Lagos Algiers Highway.

The minister, who hosted the meeting on behalf of the Federal Government, restated Nigeria’s commitment to the completion of the Route, especially the portion that falls within the territory of Nigeria. That commitment is being demonstrated in several ways including the efforts and steady progress being made towards the completion of the 1131 kilometres of the road that passes through Nigeria, the placing of the major arterial roads – the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kano Road- under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund thereby freeing them from any funding challenges and the recent approval by the Federal Executive Council for the ratification and domestication of the African Road Safety Charter. The Minister also cited the recent signing, by the President, of the African Continental Free Trade Zone, an endorsement which, according to him, shows “that we are on the right track”.

The historic significance of the Trans Saharan Trade Route, as an important part of Nigeria’s history, the Minister said, lay in its rich history as the ancient Trans Sahara Trade Route through which important African Personages, like Mansa Musa and Shehu of Bornu, travelled on camels and horses across the Continent. The Minister emphasized this point with delight, “This is how much Africa has progressed. With the partnership of all of the men sitting here and all of the experts, the road that used to be travelled by camels and horses, footpaths, is now motorable”.

He urged Nigerians to understand that as part of this Route, which traverses 37 regions in Africa, connecting 74 urban centres and 60 million people across six member countries, Nigeria “is part of a large urban network of opportunities”. Noting that 80 percent of the present roads has already been asphalted, the Minister wondered why member countries are not utilizing the advantage of the route to connect in trade and commerce as those ancient African Personages did.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, said Nigeria was committed to the establishment of quality infrastructure in the country to drive economic development and job creation. His administration, he said, was resolved to increase the nation’s stock of road infrastructure in order to ease the cost and time of doing business and to improve her economic competitiveness envisaged in the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The President said it was in view of this that his administration shares the aspiration and the vision of the Trans Saharan Route Liaison Committee encouraging member countries to develop sections of Trans Saharan Route within their respective territories. One of the highlights of that event was the inspection of the progress of work on portions of the Route within the Federal Capital Territory by members of the Committee.

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