FG’s Road Trust Fund Policy Begins with Reconstruction of N73bn Apapa-Ojota Concrete Road

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Bennett Oghifo

The first project that would apply the federal government’s Road Trust Fund Policy has started with the reconstruction of the N73 billion, 32-kilometre Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota in Lagos begins.

The plan is to reconstruct the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota expressway Section 1 Sub-section A, beginning from Olorogun Michael Ibru Boulevard (former Creek Road)-end of Port Novo Bridge and Liverpool road to Coconut to Beachland Estate interchange bridge to Cele Bus Stop to Anthony Village to Old Lagos Toll Gate.

Last week, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Engr. Adedamola Kuti said work would begin on Section1 Subsections A, B, D, and Sections 3 and 4 for a seamless reconstruction period and smooth flow of traffic at all times and for timely delivery of the project which is expected to be completed in 24 months.

Dangote Industries Limited, which got the job from the federal government on the Road Trust Fund Policy, has engaged Hitech Construction Company to execute it, according to Kuti.

“The Road Trust Fund Policy gives private sector operators an incentive to fund infrastructure with government. This is an innovative and laudable scheme, we are putting our money upfront,” said the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, during the groundbreaking ceremony performed, last November, by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We are actually advancing our tax to government upwards of almost four to six years. This is a novel idea that will no doubt lead to rapid economic growth through significant infrastructure improvement. We look forward to doing more of this infrastructure with government.”

Dangote lauded President Buhari for establishing the Road Trust Fund, which he said is targeted at constructing major commercial corridors with heavy vehicular traffic, saying “This will surely open up the economy, boost our ease of doing business and also improve our ranking considerably in the annual global competitiveness report.”

He said in 2017, his company’s corporate tax, Withholding tax and education tax alone got to N97.6 billion and that he was sure that this year, “Our taxes will be over 160 billion, by next year is should be over N200 billion. So, it is a wise thing for us to work with the government, because those roads that are not delivered on time, can actually be delivered on time and on budget, because if there is money for it, then there will be no excuse to increase cost.”

Dangote said the project that would be the largest concrete road in West Africa, has a two-year construction period and that it would be completed on budget and ahead of schedule, adding that the road would have a minimum lifespan of 45 to 50 years.

“I want to assure your excellences that this road will be the first road we will finish ahead of schedule in the country, and it will also be finished on budget and it would be the largest concrete road in West Africa. I promise you it will be completed ahead of schedule; with this road our own name will be at stake.”

He said they would make sure that the road was done properly and delivered free of trouble, adding that on completion, the revenue of the Nigerian Ports Authority and that of Dangote and other companies doing business in Apapa would quadruple.

Meanwhile, Kuti and other stakeholders have assured that plans have been put in place to ensure that trucks are cleared out of the expressway for smooth reconstruction works. “People are not expected to drive 100 kilometres per hour when construction work is ongoing. If they drive at 50 kilometres per hour, they will still arrive at their destinations, and it is better to arrive safely than to speed to problems.

“I also appeal to people that anybody who has no business going to Apapa during this period should try and stay. If we all cooperate with the contractors by obeying simple instructions to do the right thing, the project will be delivered in 24 months. The project will be done in sections. It is not expected that the dual carriageway and the service lane will be done at the same time. While the dual carriageway is being done, the service lane will serve as a diversion for motorists and commuters.

Chairman, Amalgamation of Containers and Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, Olaleye Thompson said, “We have been having meetings with truck owners on the need to remove trucks out of the road, and they have agreed to remove their trucks out the expressway for the smooth reconstruction works on the road.”

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Lagos Sector Commander, Hyginus Omeje said they cleared the expressway when President Muhammed Buhari was coming to Lagos, adding that the trucks will be cleared out of the road this time again for smooth reconstruction period. “We did it when President Buhari was coming to Lagos. We told truck drivers not to enter Lagos that period and they obeyed. It will happen again this I assure the public.”

The Port Manager, Tin Can Island Ports, NPA, Emmanuel Akporherhe, also assured that they would improve port operations to ensure that there would be no congestion at the ports.

He stated that plans were already underway to digitalise and automate the call up system in order to free it from manipulation and compromise.