The Federal Government has unveiled plans to embark on a 460km superhighway project that would cut travel hours from Lagos to Abuja from about 14 hours to four-and-a-half hours and the Lagos-Port Harcourt Coastal Highway.
While the Abuja-Lagos Superhighway project was awarded to Advanced Engineering Consultants (AEC), the Lagos-Port Harcourt Coastal Highway was given to Hitech Construction Company Limited.
According to the Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, who addressed a press conference at Eko Signature Suites in Lagos on Saturday, September 23, the road would be built with concrete, not asphalt, and the construction through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) would be on a Build Operate and Transfer (BoT) arrangement with a consortium led by Advanced Engineering Consultants (AEC) under the chairmanship of Chief Kenny Martins.
Umahi announced that the highway running from Abuja through eight states to kiss the Fourth Mainland Bridge in Lagos will be completed in four years.
He said, “The President has approved that I should FastTrack this project.”
The minister said that at completion, an average vehicle traveling at 100km/hr could get to Lagos from Abuja in four and half hours.
“This is a journey that is more than 14 hours presently, so people found it hard to believe when this idea was introduced, but that is the Renewed Hope agenda of our divine President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. That is what God has brought him to do. He is the last hope for Nigeria, no matter what people say… Things that couldn’t have been done are being done under this administration… Nobody can fix Nigeria like Tinubu.
“This project is going to be two lanes, but the two lanes will be two carriageways – 14 meters; the only carriageway that is equivalent to this is the Third Mainland Bridge where each carriageway is 14 meters. It’s going to be built on 275-millimeter thick concrete… The lifespan will be 100 years. Bridges will be built and there will be tolling points.”
Umahi, who was accompanied by top officials from the Federal Ministry of Works and contractors, said, “We are here to FastTrack the development of the Greenfield of the PPP development under a new program of the Federal Ministry of Works which is the HDMI Programme (Highway Development and Management Initiative).
“Under this programme, there are two kinds, we have the Greenfield, and we have the Brown Field. The Greenfield is the one we are doing with the Advanced Engineering Company. They identified the project; they came up to discuss it with us; we threw the idea to the market; we invited investors; they made proposals… They won the bid to further engage us.”
The superhighway will pass through the FCT, Niger, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos – Abuja, North-Central, and South-West.
Umahi said that the government would not put money into the project but would give the bid winners every support.
He commended the promoters of AEC, who he described as brilliant people.
“I’m very satisfied with their concept and what they have put in place. The next stage is to bring their business proposal so that we can negotiate on what the cost of the project will be. And then, they’ll go to the Ministry of Finance to negotiate the cost.
“We are building on concrete, so we can predict the cost; with asphalt, you cannot predict the cost. The cost of asphalt roads changes every month. Today, the dollar is almost a thousand naira. The oil price is almost $100 per barrel.
“Concrete roads are more durable and cheaper than asphalt. I’ve directed that the remaining jobs on all the ongoing projects that have not advanced up to 80percent must change to concrete.”
The minister also spoke on failed roads across the country putting the blame on civil servants.
He warned that any controller that allowed trucks to fall on the road under his supervision would go on indefinite suspension, and the director in that region would be recalled.
He said, “Hold civil servants responsible for failure of road projects. Civil servants in other parts of the country apart from Lagos stay in the office and issue certificates to contractors.
“I’ve inspected roads in South-West and South-East. I spent 14 hours traveling from Abuja to Benin. I had pains, and I was so happy having the pains because Nigerians are going through the pains on a daily basis.”
Umahi also blamed the failed road projects across the country on lack of supervision; “contractors took money and didn’t do the work. They constructed failed roads. Roads that could not stand three years. They could not even maintain the roads. Trucks are falling. Travelers pass through communities. People are being kidnapped. I went to Warri. I went to Bayelsa, the story is the same.
“In every contract, there’s provision to maintain the roads. If a contractor is greedy to take a project of 150km that should go to three contractors, he should be prepared to maintain it. I’ve created a platform where I have all the contractors and the directors inside. Everybody is back to work. It’s the directive of Mr. President. He said that he must not see vehicles falling on highways again. I will get whoever flouts the directive out of the way.
“I have just informed Mr President that in 30 days if no urgent attention is given to the road, nobody will pass from Bayelsa or Port Harcourt to Warri. And that is very dangerous. So, he directed that I should go and inspect the roads and bring comprehensive information on what should be done immediately.
“He is a man who listens. He’s in a hurry to solve people’s problems in this country. He’s very much in a hurry to change the story. From Bayelsa, I went to Port Harcourt, to Akwa Ibom, to Cross River, and from there I flew to Enugu yesterday evening by 6 o’clock to discuss this road matter with the governor of Enugu State.
“I’m also to reinspect the Third Mainland Bridge and start work on it immediately, and then discuss with the Ogun State governor on the HDMI.”
Fielding questions from reporters on challenges that PPP projects have been facing in Nigeria, Umahi said that things would be different this time.
“We will tie ourselves very well with irrevocable agreement. On the issue of Right of Way, they own the entire land until they recover the money invested. If the Federal Government reneges, they have to pluck their investment directly from the Federation Account.
“If the investment must work, it must not be subjected to political dynamism. It has to be a business venture. That’s why I like President Bola Tinubu. He inherited 18,000 km of roads, and 2,640 projects; there are still constituency projects that are over another 2,000 in number. So, you have over 64,664 Federal Government projects that are ongoing.
“He has not stopped any contractor. He wants to complete all those things. Certain leaders will say we want to do our own, that is gross irresponsibility.
“They (bid winners) are going to give me a letter of comfort; if they back out, they must pay us $10million. My coming here is at a cost, and nobody should waste our time.”
In his response, Chief Kenny Martins assured that the road would be the first of its kind with communication cyber cable, rail lines, and coastal areas.
“The road will be ICT complaint so that electronic vehicles can operate on the road; there will be all kinds of security and there will be solar lights, the whole 460kilometres of the road,” he said.
The minister also mentioned that the Federal Government is working to actualise another project, the Lagos-Port Harcourt Coastal Highway.
He said that Hitech Construction would fund the project under the PPP model.
Hitech is a division of the Chagoury Group, a business conglomerate in Lagos that oversaw the construction of the Lekki-Epe expressway and the Ajah flyover.
Umahi added that upon completion, the highway would have multiple spurs connecting major towns and cities, including a spur connecting Ogoja-Ikom-Cameroon Road.
“There will be a spur that will connect the proposed fourth mainland bridge in Lagos,” he said.
“It is also connected to the deep seaport road being constructed by Hitech, under the concrete technology and it is also connected at Lagos-Badagry to the proposed Lagos-Abidjan superhighway.”
He said there would also be multiple connections with roads leading to the northern parts of the country.
“There is a proposal for connection to Sokoto. I think about four to five connections to northern Nigeria,” he said.
Umahi described the project as a brainchild of President Tinubu, who asked him to also “fast track this project because it is going to be a catalyst towards the economic development of this country.
“Let me announce that it is under PPP. The Hitech Group is going to look for the money. They have already found the money and that is the good news because we don’t waste our time talking and holding meetings and wasting resources,” he said.
“We are engaging seriously because we have seen the financial capacity and capability of Hitech and this project is going to be delivered in phases.
“Any section that we complete, we will toll it, and then business and transportation will start.
“The right of way of this project is about a 100-meter corridor. There is provision for a rail line in the middle of the road which is about 20 meters.
“The road has four carriageways. Each of the service lanes is 10 meters wide. The main carriageway is 14 meters.”
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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