By Grace Alegba
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said on Saturday that President Muhammadu Buhari was laying the foundation for economic growth of Nigeria through infrastructure renewal.
Fashola said this during an inspection of the Apapa-Wharf Road Reconstruction project and flag-off of the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Apapa-Wharf Road Reconstruction Project was done by AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd and financed by the Dangote Group, Nigerian Ports Authority and Flour Mills of Nigeria.
The Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway project, on the other hand, was awarded to the Dangote Group.
Fashola described port access roads as “blood vessels” that serviced all activities in the ports
He said they had, however, been abandoned alongside various federal highways by previous governments.
The minister said that the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway was constructed between 1975 and 1978 and had not been expanded since then.
He said that the major highways had been abandoned by previous administrations until President Buhari picked up the initiative to turn things around.
“President Buhari is laying the foundation for economic growth that would release economic prosperity, create jobs. It is this road that releases the opportunity,” Fashola said.
He thanked Dangote for investing in the development of Nigeria, pointing out that, four of Dangote’s firms paid about N22 billion as annual taxes to the Federal Government.
The minister said that the two major ports in the nation had been overstretched, as they were designed to take 30 million metric tons but now took over 80 million metric tonnes of cargo.
He said that the federal government was planning the construction of the Lekki and Badagry Sea Ports to complement the two major ones, to ease port congestion.
Fashola appealed for patience of the road users as construction work commenced.
Gov Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos while delivering his speech said that the project was the real Lagos solution to the problem of gridlock in the state.
He said that interconnectivity of rail, road and water transportation was important.
Ambode commended the Federal Government for its efforts in reviving the railway in conjunction with road projects to address gridlock, saying it would bring relief to residents of the state.
“We are happy that this project has finally commenced,” he said.
He promised to increase deployment of traffic and law enforcement agencies to the route to ensure smooth execution of the project.
Sen. Kabiru Gaya, Chairman Senate Committee on Works, said that concrete should be adopted for road construction in the nation as it lasted more, to tackle the huge deficit in roads infrastructure.
Also, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu said that the construction would solve the problem on flooding of the highway.
“The project will reduce stress of commuting for us all,” she said.
President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, while delivering a vote of thanks, commended the Federal Government for adoption of the Road Trust Fund, which gave the private sector opportunity to participate in infrastructure renewal.
Dangote said that the nation was losing huge revenue due to bad roads and assured that his firm would pay “special attention” to the reconstruction of the highway by doing good quality job.
He also thanked government for the proposed Lekki ports project and thanked other stakeholders and ministry officials for efforts in completing the Apapa Wharf Road Reconstruction project.
Dangote promised to deliver the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway project ahead of schedule.
“We will not disappoint you (Fashola) and Nigerians; we will make sure we do the best job.
“We are advocating rigid pavement not because we sell cement but because we want to give Nigerians the best,” Dangote said.
Representatives of Apapa and Ajegunle Residents Association, Truck Drivers and owners unions and various stakeholders took turns to commend the project and the economic development it will bring to Lagos and Nigeria.
The 32 km Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway project will include reconstruction of Creek Road, Liverpool Road, Beach land Estate Interchange, Cele Bus Stop through Anthony Village to the old Toll gate.
It has a completion date of two years.