By Kingsley Adegboye
As companies along the Apapa-corridor continue to count their losses due to the perennial traffic congestion on the axis, the President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, weekend disclosed his two companies located within the Apapa Port, lost over N25 billion between 2017 and 2018 because of congestion at the port caused by gridlock in the axis.
Dangote who made this known Saturday during the inspection of the ongoing reconstruction of Apapa-Oshodi-Toll Gate with the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said “We also operate inside the port. If you look at our income between 2017 and 2018, we lost over N25 billion because of congestion. We are able to produce but we are not able to come out of the port because of congestion of the port resulting from the gridlock in the Apapa axis”.
Commenting on the project, Dangote noted “Well, you have seen the quality of the road, and as the Minister has said, it will bring a lot of activities back to Apapa when it is completed. You must have seen a lot of containers and trucks all over the place because of the deplorable condition of the road which made a lot of businesses to relocate out of Apapa.
“But with the completion of the road, businesses will return to Apapa. This road will actually open the economy, it will bring a lot of jobs and factories that have moved out to come back, and their businesses will prosper better than before.
Assuring that the road will be completed before the end of 2020, he said “We are grateful to the President for approving this road for reconstruction. That is why we are working day and night to be able to meet the delivery period on schedule and of high quality, and I can assure you that this will be one of the best roads not only in Nigeria, but Africa”, Dangote stated.
Meanwhile, Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola who led the inspection said President Muhammadu Buhari, has said that there will be enduring solution to the problem that has characterised the port road.
According to Fashola, “We appeal to commuters who are going through some hardship now because of the ongoing reconstruction work that we mean well. We will do proper and enduring job because the president’s mandate is that this job must be an enduring solution.
“We expect that by the end of 2020, the entire road network will be finished, we will have a road that will last for forty years or more, and by that time of course, we expect that part of the rail from Lagos to Ibadan should start some operation, and this will make our roads to begin to last to their actual design life.
Commenting further, he said Apapa, Tin Can, Mile 2, Oshodi and Oworonshoki expressway when last year, Federal Executive Council approved that there was need to fund this road through the strategic partnership with the Dangote Group using the tax credit initiative, some people expressed concern.
“But here we are. The solution is working, it is a form of PPP, and we have gone from section 1, from the port entrance right to Beachland Estate, and we have seen the work that is going on there. We have passed section 2 which is not part of the contract, but what you will see there now is that because it was made of the bituminous type of pavement, it is beginning also to show signs of wear. “This is because of the heavy axle loads that characterise the usage there, and of course you saw a lot of deposition of waste and refuse which inhibit free flow of water which then gather slowly to begin to damage the road from under.
“Because of this, we will rethink our strategy which probably includes section 2 into this contract so that there is a continuous road network built of concrete from Apapa port entrance to the toll gate. But we are at Oshodi area now, and one side of the road has been completed and open to traffic. This is how we intend to continue to complete and open until the entire road is executed in sections”.
He said people see road as just road, but we see economy strategy through economy intervention. “For instance, all materials used in this project are sourced from Nigeria. Instead of importing bitumen, we are using Nigerian cement. And this is good because it keeps cement industry growing and creating jobs. With this, there is an economy going on there.
“Another point to make is that in terms of prosperity and poverty, as seen in Liverpool area, businesses have started coming back because the road is now back. And you will see more of the businesses that are shut down coming back around Creek Road and others because the road is back. “Property redevelopment and renewal will equally begin to take place in Apapa when the road is completed. When the economy of Apapa returns, all the clearing, forwarding and shipping as well as newspaper houses and companies there will bounce back. And when the economy returns, prosperity follows it, and this means a significant step from poverty.
“In conclusion, I think it is important for people to understand what we are doing. All the roads such as Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Badagry, Lagos-Abeokuta, Ikorodu-Shagamu and others that people have complained about have been revived. We understand the pains people go through because of the situations of the roads. But as we finish them, things will certainly get better. So, I wish our viewers pleasant 2020, as we make progress on this road”, Fashola noted.