Apapa-Oworosoki Concrete Road is Strategic Economic Intervention, Says Fashola

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*Dangote: We lost over N25Bn to congestion

The reconstruction of the port access road- Apapa-Tin Can-Mile 2-Oshodi-Oworosoki-Toll Gate, using concrete, should be regarded as strategic economic intervention, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said.

The concrete road’s reconstruction will be complete before the end of next year, ahead of schedule, according to Alhaji Aliko Dangote, whose company is financing the 32-kilometre road project, valued at about N73 billion, through a special purpose vehicle, ‘Road Trust Fund Policy’, introduced by the federal government.

He said once the road was built, business activities would pick up again, stating that his companies were also affected by the bad road. “We also operate inside the Port. If you look at our income, two of our companies between 2017 and 2018 lost over N25 billion in terms of profitability because of congestion. We are able to produce but we are not able to exit the Port, but right now we’re grateful that the President has come up with this and that’s why we are working day and night to ensure that the road is delivered on time and with the highest quality. I can assure you that this will be the best road, not only in Nigeria but also in Africa.”

Both executives spoke at the weekend during their joint inspection of the road project, beginning from the NPA/Michael Ibru Boulevard- end of the road to Oshodi.

During the project tour, the minister said the road’s reconstruction was President Muhammadu Buhari’s idea of having an enduring solution to the problem that has characterised the port road- Apapa-Tin Can-Mile 2-Oshodi-Oworosoki-Toll Gate Road.

He said when the Federal Executive Council, last year, approved the funding of the road, in strategic partnership with the Dangote Group, “using the Tax Credit initiative, some people expressed concern, but here we are, the solution is working, it is a form of PPP.”

The minister said the reconstruction work was beyond mere road development, stating that it was a strategic economic intervention. “The materials that are used now, instead of imported bitumen, we are using made-in-Nigeria cement and that is good for keeping the cement factories going, employing people who mix, who produce, bag, transport. So, there is an economy going on there.”

On the value chain of the road’s development, the minister quoted the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Adedamola Kuti, who said about 5,000 trucks of aggregates had been moved from the quarries to the construction sites. “That requires labour, drivers, trucks, tyres, fuel, among others. That is the underlying economy apart from the 650 people who are employed in actual construction.”

He said on the long run when the road was completed, businesses would return to the once abandoned stretch, particularly on the Apapa axis, stating that the Liverpool road end was beginning to be repopulated again with small businesses. “You will see more of that, all of the businesses that have been shut down on Michael Ibru Boulevard (Creek Road) will return. We expect to see property redevelopment, property renewal, once the road is complete. When the economy of Apapa returns, all the clearing, forwarding, shipping, newspaper companies and all of the people that are there doing any business are assured the economy will come back, and when it does, you will see that it is sheer prosperity and another significant step away from poverty.”

He said all of the contracts on the rehabilitation/reconstruction of various roads have been revived and that it would bring some pain and discomfort with it, but that “as we finish them, things will surely get better.”

Giving details of the project, Fashola said “We have gone from section 1, which is the Port Entrance right to Beachland Estate,” adding that they had passed section two, which he said is not part of the contract.”

He said section 2 of the road was built with bitumen and that this was the reason it was beginning to show signs of disrepair, particularly from the heavy axle load of vehicles exiting and entering the ports, and from huge deposits of solid waste that inhibits flow of storm water in the drains, explaining that road made of bitumen deteriorates with pools of water on it.

The minister said it would be productive to include this section 2, built with bitumen, in the contract so that there would be a continuous road network built of concrete from the Apapa Port entrance, right through to the toll gate.

He said the strategy being used in reconstructing the road is to work on a section of the dual carriage way at a time, as was done at the Oshodi axis. “This is how we intend to complete and open until we finish the entire road; we will be executing in sections.”

The government, he said was mindful of the fact that commuters were going through a lot of inconvenience at the moment, adding “we mean well, but we want to do a proper and enduring job, because the president’s mandate is that this must be an enduring solution. We expect that by the end of 2020, the entire road network will be finished, we will have a road that will last for 40 years, well-used or more and by that time, of course, we also expect that part of the road facility from Lagos-Ibadan should start some type of operation and, therefore, our roads will begin to last their actual design life.”

Also, during the tour, Alhaji Dangote directed attention to the high quality of work being done by his company, stating that “it will be bring back activities, people who have deserted Apapa will now be able to return, because the entire road network will now be rebuilt.

“This road will actually open up the economy and bring a lot of jobs since a factories that have moved out will now be able to move in. I can assure you that this road will be ready before the end of next year.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony of the 32-kilometre road project in November, last year, Alhaji Dangote explained how the Road Trust Policy works, stating, “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.”

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.