Construction of N10.9 billion (US$69 million), Mokwa – Bida road, in Niger has kicked off. The road, which is approximately 121 kilometres long, links the Lagos -Kano highway. Speaking during the launch of the works, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, said that the road would be completed in 24 months adding that the project would be financed by both the World Bank and the Federal Government.
He directed the road sector development team to ensure the successful delivery of the road on time.
Earlier, Governor Babagangida Aliyu, represented by the Speaker, Niger State House of Assembly, Adamu Usman, thanked President Jonathan for approving the project and assured the minister that the communities, through which the road passes, would provide enabling environment for the contractors.
The cost of constructing federal roads and bridges in three years has been estimated at N32 trillion (US$202 billion).
The federal government’s is to provide N10 trillion (US$63 billion) while state and local governments are required to provide N9 trillion (US$56.8 billion) with the remaining N13 trillion (US$82 billion) coming from the private sector.
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, Bashir Yuguda, announced that the decisions reached after the series of consultations would form the basis for a White Paper that would be sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which would thereafter forward a bill to the National Assembly to enact it into a law.
He added that this would be the basis upon which investors would decide on the roads they would construct and build their toll gates. Noting that the practice worldwide was for roads to fund their construction and maintenance through tolling, the minister said with roads responsible for over 90 per cent of the movement of goods and passengers in Nigeria and with the volume of vehicles plying the roads rising astronomically from 150,000 in 1983 to nine million as at 2012, it was impossible for any government to cope with the cost of maintaining such roads.
Yuguda also announced that a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan which would set out sectoral allocation, geographical consideration and funding options for road infrastructure is in the offing. He also stated that there were nine roads ready for concessioning in a public-private partnership (PPP). They include the Second Niger Bridge, Onitsha, already awarded to a consortium involving Julius Berger; the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and an improved road from Apakun to Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja. Yuguda said the government was being careful to avoid the challenges thrown up by the earlier concessioning of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
A director at the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izua, disclosed that when the right concessioning was done and the roads fixed, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could grow by five per cent from the current seven per cent to 12 per cent every year. He added that an additional 14,000 kilometres of roads would be built per annum. Isa Usman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) concurs with the Federal Ministry of Works that tolling would provide the needed funds to maintain the roads. He said Nigerian engineers were proud of the ongoing reforms in the road sector.