By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Concerned about the pace of work on the Abuja-Kano road, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has sued for peace from all stakeholders to enable the contractors handling the project, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, to continue with the job the company is doing on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road.
The scope of works for the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, also known by the acronym AKR, has been altered from Adhoc rehabilitation of broken segments to comprehensive reconstruction by the client, the Federal Government.
This development was revealed in a presentation made by the Managing Director of the contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr Lars Richter at a Town Hall meeting in the Kaduna State University-Main auditorium in Kaduna. The scope of works, Dr Richter said, has been broken down into three sections, being Section 1 stretching at 165.5km from Abuja to Kaduna; Section 2 comprising a length of 73.4km from Kaduna to Zaria; and Section 3 with a distance of 137.0km from Zaria to Kano. He said the construction work is simultaneously going on all three sections of the road.
Dr. Richter, the Julius Berger MD, said that the A2 Highway is one of the most important highways, running from North to South through densely populated areas and the AKR is a critical part of this highway system, and therefore played a tremendous role in industrial growth and socio-economic development.
The Chief of Staff to the President, the Honourable Minister, of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Distinguished Senators and Honourable members of the House of Representatives, Community leaders, members of Julius Berger’s Executive Management and project implementation team, as well as journalists, had earlier undertaken a physical inspection tour of the project by road from Kano to Kaduna to see the ongoing works firsthand before the commencement of the meeting itself. Engr. Dr Richter at all the inspection stops by the high power entourage briefed the project stakeholders on the technical nature of the ongoing works.
On the status of the works, Dr Richter highlighted that the project includes reconstruction of 2×2 Dual Carriageway with new technology; drainage works for Rural and township areas, and immediate and continuing palliative works to ensure commuters continue to ply the road route for their legitimate businesses without hindrance.
On the major concern of stakeholders with regard to avoidable accidents along the project route, the Julius Berger MD said that road traffic management concept and safety assurance procedure were also been put in place with clear diversions across all work zones in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Commission. Richter, therefore, appealed passionately to road users to comply with road signs and diversions provided by Julius Berger to ensure the safety of lives and equipment on the road at all times.
While placing a clearly tested and well-founded reliance on focused management of its high-value human capital as well as on innovative and pioneering technical resources for the timely and successful delivery of the AKR project, Julius Berger’s Managing Director, Dr Richter, informed the Kaduna meeting that: “On this project, we are pioneering the use of cold recycling methodology in Nigeria, a highly efficient and environmentally friendly solution, in which the base layer of the road is produced by recycling the milled off bonded and unbonded pavement. In a five-step method, the existing (damaged) asphalt and the base course is milled at full depth and transported to a nearby site yard for processing at a mobile batching plant after crushing”.
Dr Richter further said that “the granulated material is treated utilizing a precisely metered method to produce a homogeneous mix of bitumen-stabilized material (BSM) for paving the base layer of the road. The road layers are prepared by pre-spreading cement and stabilizing the subgrade so that the produced base layer can be paved and placed. The Asphalt surface course is paved at an increased depth of 12 cmby using polymer modified bitumen(PMB) for the hot asphalt mixes”.
The current timelines for the delivery of the project showed that Section 2 was scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022, Section 3 the first quarter of 2023 while section 1 will be delivered in the second quarter of 2025.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to completing the ongoing reconstruction of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway at the town hall meeting of stakeholders in Kaduna. Fashola emphasized that President Muhammadu Buhari is more passionate about the successful completion and commissioning of the AKR as well as other priority projects of his administration.
He said that “whatever measures it would take, the Buhari administration is determined to complete the project, especially during this administration’s tenure in office as a beneficial legacy for Nigerians”.
While responding to various concerns from stakeholders who wanted to know why the construction work on the road was taking long, the minister said, “Shortly after we flagged off the road, we received a letter from the Senators in the National Assembly asking the Federal Government to expand the road from two lanes to three lanes… they wrote to the President and copied my Ministry.”
Explaining further, Fashola stated that based on the directive from the Presidency to undertake that expansion, “we needed to redesign an expansion to accommodate about 40 different bridges on this road to align with the lanes. So if they are going to expand from two to three lanes, a new design needed to be created.
The process for doing that required us to hire a design consultant. We had to follow the procurement process established by the National Assembly.” He said, “The procurement process is a long one which entails advertising, waiting for a period of six weeks after advertisement, reviewing of tender, picking of consultant and going to the Bureau for Public Procurement and finally to the Federal Executive Council for approval to hire a consultant to do the design requested.”
Fashola also disclosed that after going through all the processes of procurement for redesigning to three lanes the Federal Ministry of Works was again instructed to revert back to two lanes earlier designed for the project due to insufficient funds.
Fashola added that “each Lane is 375km. So if you multiply that by four, we are building a thousand and five hundred kilometres of highway. No matter how hard you tried to work, if there were 25 hours in one day to do this work, we will commit to it, but the truth is that materials take time to react, minimum and maximum processes must be observed.”
The Minister of Finance, Hajija Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, said that while the completion of the project on paper was slated for 2025, the Federal Government will certainly work to actualise and commission the project as a legacy landmark for citizens beneficial use within the tenure of the Buhari administration.
The Executive Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who reminded the stakeholders at the meeting that he was a Commissioner of Works for six years in Kano before he became Governor, asked stakeholders at the meeting if ” any person here or anywhere complained about the quality of work Julius Berger is doing on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road?”
The answer from the large audience of stakeholders was a resounding Noooo! “Then, let us stick with what is good and give security and peace a chance for Julius Berger to continue doing the great quality job they are doing on the road. We in Kano are very satisfied with the excellent quality of the ongoing works on the road”, said the Governor.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari who represented President Buhari at the meeting and had earlier inspected the works, also said the quality of the ongoing works on the project was manifestly very good.
He said President Buhari is determined to address the infrastructural deficit in Nigeria in spite of the paucity of funds. “The priority infrastructural projects of the Buhari administration will by all means necessary be accomplished within the tenure of President Buhari’s administration”, Gambari said.
The Acting Governor of Kaduna State, Dr Hadiza Balarabe gave the vote of thanks to bringing proceedings at the Townhall meeting to a close.
The Town Hall meeting was organized and convened by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and chaired by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, CFR, Chief of Staff to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Professor Gambari represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the meeting. Sponsored by the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing and hosted by the Kaduna State Government, the Town Hall meeting in Kaduna was held to discuss the progress and development on the important dual carriageway project which forms a pivotal part of the strategic A2 highway.