NOT long ago, we proposed that the acute infrastructure deficit in the country, especially roads, should be tackled through Public-Private Partnerships..
These are long-term contracts between private parties and a government entity, for providing public assets or services, in which the private parties bear significant risks with management responsibilities and remunerations linked to performance.
That proposal was in line with the Presidential Executive Order No. 007 of 2019, also known as Companies Income Tax (Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme) issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria on January 25, 2019.
The Executive Order was designed to empower private companies to finance construction or refurbishment of federal roads designated as “Eligible Roads” under the scheme and recoup their investments through deduction of the approved total costs expended on the project from their annual Companies Income Tax.
Both our informative editorial and the Federal Government Executive Order No. 7 are paying off. Already, some road construction projects financed by private companies and non-profit organisations are either going on, or at different stages of completion.
The first phase of the on-going road construction by the Dangote Group expected to pass through Apapa port, Tincan, Mile 2, Oshodi, Anthony, and Oworonshoki to the toll gate on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, is in progress. It is the first heavy concrete road of up to 35 kilometres designed to last up to 100 years.
Similarly, words were out recently that Bishop David Oyedepo, founder and presiding bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Ota, Ogun State, has completed the Nigerian Navy Music School-AIT Road as part of the N650 million road construction project budget approved under the church.
The road stretches from Oju-Ore Junction, Idi-Iroko Expressway to Lagos through the Navy School of Music to African Independent Television, Alagbado, Lagos.
Although it is not yet clear whether the church, as a not-for-profit organisation exempted from tax payment, would be able, or eligible, to recoup such expenditure through tax holiday, it is a laudable project worthy of emulation by other organisations.
Given the multiplicity of roads in state of disrepair in the country, and the fact that few companies pay taxes equal to the huge amount of money required to construct solid roads, the executive order can be expanded to allow businesses to construct the roads and recoup their money through tollgate system within agreed number of years.
That way, the masses will be saved from dying in their sufferings on thousands of inaccessible roads that dot the country.
No doubt, Nigerians who virtually provide everything for themselves – power, security, water, electric transformers, electric poles, sand for the bad roads, etc., – surely will not mind paying at the tollgate if the road is good and solid.
If the environment is conducive and safe for the private sector, investors in these basic infrastructures will come.