More facts have emerged on why the Federal Government has opted to rely on private firms to undertake the repair of the Apapa-Ijora Road, billed to cost N4.34 billion.
Sources in the Presidency said the inability of Nigeria to pull through the proposed loan facilities, put at $30 billion, from international financial institutions, and the loss of confidence that the Buhari administration could execute a major road contract encouraged the idea of inviting corporate bodies to partner with government on the road.
An official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “If the national Assembly had given accelerated hearing to the loan proposal, perhaps what we could have been talking about is creditor institutions have agreed to be part of the loan facility, but that is not the situation at the moment.
“Given that the 2017 budget is still battling with so many issues, primarily deficit funding of $23 billion, the best option has been to encourage willing private citizens to come on board here, knowing that the (Buhari’s) government has not executed any major road project, though it is completing works on abandoned ones by previous administration.
“Apapa Road repair being one of the promises made by the Buhari administration to Lagosians during his campaign, all that is needed to have commenced the rehabilitation of the road, which houses the country’s ports in Nigeria, has been done”
Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, throwing more light on the development, revealed that many private firms were earlier approached for the sponsorship but that only Dangote and Flour Mills agreed to fund the project in collaboration with the Federal Government.
He said with the success witnessed in signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the two firms, similar move will be made towards giving roads in Port Harcourt and Calabar ports a facelift soon.
“We are embarking on what will be the final solution to the massive inconvenience businesses and residents in Apapa have had to endure for a couple of years.
“I like to acknowledge the leadership role of Dangote and Flour Mills who are operators and have also contributed to make this a reality.
“They are doing this as a total Corporate Responsibility without asking for tax holiday or reduction. We are also working on how to ensure free access to Tin Can Island.
“The road repair will take one year to be completed. We need the cooperation of all the stakeholders.
“There will be some discomfort on the way but we appeal for tolerance and perseverance. It will continue to get better, people should please ensure more to solve the challenge,” Fashola said.
In his comment on the flagging off of the work, the Managing Director of Flour Mills, Paul Gbededo, said the complete repair of Apapa could only be complete if the Federal Government would place priority on taking up rehabilitation of other sections of roads terminating on the Apapa Road.
He confirmed that there would be some inconveniences for the 12 months duration that the repair work will take and sought the cooperation of other stakeholders and road users during the construction period.
“Apapa has become a very difficult place to work. With this project that the Federal Government has allowed us to embark on, it will give succour to business.
“It is meant to link the biggest port in Nigeria and should not be taken with levity,” he said.
Also the spokesman of Dangote Group, Mr Joseph Makoju, said the firm was co-sponsoring the project as part of the company’s corporate community responsibilities, which is aimed at providing an enabling environment for businesses in the area.
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