By Franklin Alli
PRESIDENT of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has estimated that the country is losing about N140 billion weekly to traffic gridlocks on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos, the access road to Nigeria’s main sea ports.
Dangote who spoke to journalists in Lagos, yesterday, said: “The economy loses more than N20 billion daily and N140 billion weekly. It affects businesses across the country. All our operations in the hinterland in Ilorin, in Kano are operating at 40 per cent maximum capacity.”
He lauded the decision of the Federal Government to reconstruct the failed Apapa Wharf road as its grim state is an embarrassment to the country.
Lamenting the state of roads in the country, Dangote said: “Today there is no linkage road going from South West to the North. You have to go all the way through Ajaokuta, Obajana, Lokoja and you have to go by that uncompleted road Obasanjo (ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo) started 13 years ago.”
Commenting on his resolve to personally get involved in the Apapa Wharf road reconstruction, he said: “Because it is very embarrassing! We can’t just sit and have a road like that where it is the heart of the trade of the country. More than 60 per cent of our country’s import and exports come through the port and we leave it un-attended. That is why we started on our own. Flour Mills said they will join us, but now government changed the design because they want all the cables and pipes underground and to have a more robust solution.”
To help in bringing the cost down, he explained that he forced his company to do it at zero profit. According to him, “Both Dangote and Flour Mills are pumping in over N2.5billion for two kilometre double lane on each side making a total of four kilometres.”
He further explained that the biggest job “is drainage because that is what is destroying the road. We will make sure this problem is sorted out once and for all. This thing should not be allowed to happen. We started discussion with the government over one year and we are happy that we have been given the opportunity to finally fix it.”
It would be recalled that the federal government last weekend handed over the bad road to Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) for immediate reconstruction with concrete overlay.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the construction of the road was signed by the federal government, Dangote Industries Limited a; Nigerian Ports Authority and Flourmills of Nigeria.