April 23, 2024

Criticisms of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway unpatriotic – Umahi

Lagos-Calabar coastal highway


John Alechenu, ABUJA

The Minister of Works, Engr. David Umahi has described critics of the Lagos-Calabar Super Highway as unpatriotic Nigerians who were willing to sacrifice development on the alter of politics.

He said this in response to public criticism of the project by Nigerians especially politicians.

Umahi who spoke through his Special Adviser (Media), Orji Uchenna Orji, in Abuja, yesterday dismissed the trending posts of criticisms by some notable politicians on the propriety of the project as, “baseless thoughts of critics who are either bereft of the knowledge of the workings of the project or they deliberately want to sacrifice the modest developmental efforts of Mr. President at the altar of their political ambitions.”

Orji said it was unthinkable that such highly placed people fail to understand the various elucidations provided by the Minister on when the project was conceptualized, the various administrations that attempted but failed to carry it out, the economic and technical considerations that gave rise to its commencement.

He explained that the President Bola Tinubu-led administration had taken the pains to workout the funding, procurement details and indeed, the dimensions, importance, priority and propriety of the projects in the national developmental trajectory.

According to him, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Lagos- Calabar coastal highway project is being done under EPC +F.

“What does this type of funding entail? This is a project financing mechanism in which EPC+F contractors also arrange financing for the project. EPC+F is Engineering, Procurement and Construction plus Financing. Engineering here includes design and specification.

“This initiative provides a fixed price, fixed date, and transfers risks to the contractor. This type of funding requires only a counter- part funding from the Federal Government.

“Such funds are sourced by contractors where they have confidence in the economic policies of government, which essentially entails allowing the participation of the private sector in the road infrastructure development through PPP or EPC+F.

“In the recent Inauguration of the Committee on Compensation of owners of properties that will be affected by section 1 of the Lagos- Calabar Coastal Highway, the minister emphasized the nature of the project funding and the workings of EPC + F when he said, ‘And graciously, Mr. President had approved that this section three will start from Calabar, which is the end point of the project, and start running towards Akwa Ibom.’

“ So, the 700 km is procured under phase one, in phases, and it’s EPC +F. EPC+F is engineering, procurement, construction, and finance.

“And so, under this kind of arrangement, the contractor is expected to bring in a certain amount of money, and Federal Government is expected to pay certain counterpart funding.”

He further said, “No patriotic Nigerian
should discourage this kind of project
where funding is substantially from the contractor.

“There is no doubt that Mr. President is aggressively tackling the backlogs of uncompleted road projects. In the 2023 Supplementary Budget, Mr. President approved funds for intervention on the over 260 dilapidated roads nationwide.

“The 2024 appropriation made provision for capital investment on our critical roads across the 6 Geo- political zones of Nigeria.

“The Honourable Minister has already made a great difference in the road infrastructure development roadmap of this administration through his new innovations on road construction and rehabilitation, his power of supervision, and his contract negotiation power which is second to none in the history of the Federal Ministry of Works.

“He has been touring around and supervising the various ongoing projects of the federal government, and the difference is already there.

“The people are testifying of the quality and speed of road projects being executed by the Renewed Hope administration. He has proven track records on road infrastructure development.

“He is not into rhetorics like many politicians who talk high but can do only less. The administration of President Tinubu is doing roads that will stand the test of time. The roads he is fixing will facilitate economic recovery.

“The patriotic Nigerians are already applauding the good efforts of Mr. Presidentt, but professional politicians are busy criticizing a landmark project that will launch Nigeria into the league of the best economies of the continent.

“On the importance of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project to the economy of the nation, it is clear that the coastal highway, when completed, will foster national economic growth.

“ Notably,, all roads in the country are important as reflected by the interventions of this administration on road rehabilitation across the nation, but the coastal highway offers much more economic benefits to the nation because of its connectivity to the North and South through the existing spurs.”