Minna- The World Bank has approved N4.7 billion grant for the construction of rural roads in four states to fast track development and encourage agricultural activities in the country.
Mr Nicolas Pertiera, the Bank’s team leader for rural access roads monitoring projects, disclosed this on Thursday in Minna, during a courtesy call on Niger acting governor, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto.
“The World Bank is embarking on the construction and rehabilitation of selected rural roads in four states of the federation as part of its comprehensive efforts at opening up rural areas and enhancing agricultural activities.”
Pertiera who did not mention the three states that would benefit with Niger under the pilot scheme, said that the four states would benefit from the 315 million dollars grant.
“The World Bank has set aside the sum for the construction of 200 kilometres rural access roads in each of the four states within a period of six months.”
He said that out of the amount, the World Bank was contributing N2.9 billion ($195m) while the French international development agency would contribute N1.8 billion ($120m).
Pertiera said that care would be taken in selecting the projects to ensure that only communities with high agricultural potentials benefit in order to encourage farmers access to the market.
“The project is another way of alleviating poverty because we discovered that most people in the rural areas don’t have access to sell their farm produce due to bad roads,” he said.
He urged the benefiting states to collaborate with the World Bank, saying that any state that completes its 200 km rural feeder road network within six months deadline would enjoy additional incentives.
Pertiera said that the World Bank would maintain the roads for five years after construction before handing them over to their respective states as part of confidence building mechanism.
Responding, Ibeto assured the World Bank team of government’s determination to partner with development agencies to fast track its vision 20:2020 development agenda using agriculture.
“This government intends to use agriculture to develop the state and we are ready to partner the World Bank on all conditions needed for this project,” he said.
He commended the World Bank for including Niger in the programme, adding that the state road rehabilitation agency would maintain the road once it is handed over to the government. (NAN)