Nigerian roads are experiencing better lease of life, through the introduction of concrete pavement by Dangote Industries Limited in road construction projects. This same innovative material is to be used for the 32-kilometre Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota expressway, which was recently handed over by the Federal Government to the private indigenous conglomerate, to be reconstructed at a cost of N73 billion within the next 24 months.
For the distraught residents, motorists and businesses along the failed Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota expressway of the Lagos mainland, relief has finally come.
Respite came their way recently when the Federal Government formally handed over the 32-kilometre six-lane dual carriageway for reconstruction to improve and strengthen the nation’s economic hub of Apapa Wharf through Oshodi to the Ojota axis.
The road, said to have been built since 1975 with no facelift since then, has completely given way, with only trailers and trucks cluttering every available space on the arterial route. The situation becomes compounded anytime it rains.
While the nightmare lasted, businesses suffered and some closed shops while residents in the Apapa area – once reputed to be one of the best aesthetically designed communities within Lagos – groaned and relocated.
However, the story is gradually changing, not just because the Federal government has finally summoned the courage to bring the road back to life, but because the usual bituminous template for road rehabilitation has been jettisoned in favour of the use of concrete pavement in reconstructing the road; now a global fad.
Also, the road reconstruction has been conceded to the Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) a company which reputation is acknowledged globally. The Company whose construction subsidiary AG Dangote Construction is fast making its mark in the construction sector with the construction of a 26-kilometre concrete pavement Itori-Ibese road delivered as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project to the government of Ogun State.
It is also spearheading the construction of the two-kilometre concrete Apapa Road jointly facilitated by DIL, Flour Mills Plc and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), also as another CSR project.
The DIL, through AG Dangote, is presently undertaking the construction of a 46-kilometre concrete pavement Obajana-Kabba road, a major link connecting the Southern part of the country with the Northern axis, which has long been abandoned by motorists due to its state of disrepair.
Giving an overview of the project during the recent flag-off, the Director, Federal Highway, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Engr. Yemi Oguntominiyi said the Apapa–Oshodi-Oworonshoki–Ojota Expressway presently needs reconstruction with most parts of the road riddled with deep potholes and cracks. He said the poor condition of the road was causing serious traffic gridlock, which poses security risks to other road users.
“This situation has negatively affected the movement of petroleum products and other goods around the road corridors which potentially undermine the national economy. The advantages of the reconstruction include reduction in road accidents and loss of lives, reduction in travel time and operating cost for transporters and commuters, facilitate access into and from the Nigerian Ports, and facilitate access into and from oil and petroleum products’ depots in Lagos.
“The pavement works shall consist of provisions of compacted selected sand as fill, 150mm thick sand cement (5% cement content) as sub-base, 200mm thick crushed stone base as base course, laying 250mm thick reinforced concrete grade 30, tact coat, laying 50mm thick modified bitumen asphalt concrete wearing course (reduction noise level).
“Also included are bridges and interchange ramps rehabilitation, laying of 75mm thick concrete pavement for traffic island, laying of 150mm thick concrete pavement for plot entrance slabs, concrete crash barriers, desilting of about 60km both median and outer drains. Concrete line drains, drainage facilities and access culvert are to be provided.”
The Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota road reconstruction project, which is to gulp N73billion, is expected to be completed within 24 months; a time frame considered by professionals as fast. This is even as the President and Chief Executive of DIL, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has promised that the road may be delivered before the scheduled time frame.
The whole length of the road is to be paved with reinforced concrete by DIL, using the Road Trust Fund policy, which gives private sector operators an incentive to fund infrastructure with government. It is in form of a public, private partnership, conceived to accelerate the provision of federal roads by allowing private sector operators to collectively fund road projects in exchange for tax credit.
Dangote said: “The Road Trust Fund policy gives private sector operators an incentive to fund infrastructure with government. This is an innovative and laudable scheme; we are putting our money upfront. “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 with government,” he added.
While calling for concerted efforts to save Nigerian roads, Dangote praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to revamp infrastructures by establishing the Road Trust Fund, which he said is targeted at constructing major commercial corridors with heavy vehicular traffic, pointing out that “this would surely open up the economy, boost our ease of doing business and also improve our ranking considerably in the annual Global Competitiveness report.”
In response to reference to him by the Minister as a responsible individual and corporate citizen, Dangote disclosed that last year, his company paid corporate tax, withholding tax and education tax amounting to N97.6 billion and that he was sure that this year, “Our taxes will be over 160 billion, by next year it 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.”
Dangote said the project, which would be the largest concrete road in West Africa, would be better and more cost effective than the bituminous road because while tarred road lasts for about 20 years or below, concrete road has a minimum lifespan of 45 to 50 years.
“I want to assure your excellences that this road will be the first road we will finish ahead of schedule in the country, and it will also be finished on budget and it would be the largest concrete road in West Africa. I promise you it will be completed ahead of schedule; with this road our own name will be at stake,” he stated.
The business tycoon said they would make sure that the road was done properly and delivered free of trouble, stressing that on completion, the revenues of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and that of Dangote and other companies doing business in Apapa area would quadruple as the turn-around time would be reduced drastically.
Debunking any possible insinuation that he probably was agitating for concrete road because he produces cement, a major raw material for the concrete pavement road, Dangote said rather “we believe in opening Nigeria up and giving Nigeria the best at this time.” He said they would not leave any stone unturned in ensuring the road was done properly.
Dangote disclosed further that DIL would be partnering Hitech Construction company for quality and timely completion. He thanked the Chagoury Group, owners of Hitech Construction Company for the partnership.
He also praised present and previous governors of Lagos State for making his Refinery and Petrochemical projects in Ibeju Lekki possible, adding that “people need to realise that the revenue from that project alone is one and a half times the budget of all the states and local governments of Nigeria.”
Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while speaking at the flag-off, lamented the attitude of past governments towards critical infrastructure like the arterial roads.
The Minister, who represented President Buhari, said the reconstruction of the road’s Section 1, Sub-section A, would start from the Olorogun Michael Ibru Boulevard (former Creek Road) end of Port Novo Bridge and Liverpool road, in Apapa, through Coconut, Beachland Estate interchange bridge, Cele Bus Stop, Anthony Village, to old Lagos Toll Gate.
He recalled that the road being reconstructed was built between 1975 and 1978 and since then nothing has been added to it; as it had neither been expanded nor given any facelift, even with an increase in port activities and vehicular movement.
Fashola urged all concerned to bear with the situation as there would be a lot of inconveniences and distress during the reconstruction period. He particularly pleaded with truck owners and drivers to stick to a lane to enable other road users go through other lanes.
“We shouldn’t use our business to create inconveniences for others. We have all got to make sacrifices while the reconstruction lasts. Maintain just one lane, let others go through. There will be the need for emergencies and urgent needs for other road users. The security agents should also please do their work. There have been complaints against them by the truck drivers,” the minister added.
In his remark, the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said Public-Private Partnership was the way to go in infrastructural development and concrete pavement was the best solution for the Lagos terrain because Lagos is situated below sea level. He expressed his appreciation to the federal government for refunding the money the state spent on federal roads within the state.
The groundbreaking was attended by Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya; Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Chairman, Apapa Residents Association, Brig-Gen. Sola Ayo-Vaughan (rtd), and the leadership of the Association of Owners of Trucks and the Drivers’ arm, among others.
Earlier, Chief Remi Ogungbemi of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners described it as a monumental embarrassment for the entire road to be choked with trucks with nowhere to park, thus blocking the whole road network around Apapa. He advised that certain percentage of the revenue of the NPA should be set aside for the maintenance of the roads and other infrastructures around Apapa.