by OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos
Succor will soon come to users of Apapa Wharf road as the federal government, Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) at the weekend in Lagos signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to repair the road.
The construction of the road will be handled by AG Dangote, a subsidiary of Dangote Industries Limited. Dangote Group and FMN are funding the project valued at N4.3 billion. AG Dangote is handling the construction of the road. The has constructed concrete roads in Ibese, Ogun State and currently working on roads in Obajana.
A little background of Apapa, located west of Lagos Island, lies by the mouth of the lagoon. The Lagos Port Complex, popularly called Wharf, occupies some 120 hectares land area in Apapa. Operated by private firms on behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Lagos Port Complex contains a number of ports and terminals for containers and cargoes, and has berthing areas, cargo handling facilities, stacking areas, and storage facilities. The port is Nigeria’s biggest seaport, from where the country earns perhaps its highest revenue outside of crude oil.
According to the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), the traffic congestion in Apapa, is costing Nigeria N5 billion daily, which will translate to N1.825 trillion in a year.
The national publicity secretary of the association, Kayode Farinto, during a recent press conference, said, “The federal government is not exempted in these daily record of losses as revenues generated by some government agencies have begun to drop at an estimate of over N5 billion daily.”
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, the honorary adviser to the president/chief executive of Dangote Group, Engineer Joseph Makoju said the Group is moved by the deplorable state of the road which informed the need to look for like-thinking partners to effect repairs and salvage the road. According to him, the deplorable state of the road has impacted negatively on businesses, activities and lives of people within the locality. He explained that the state of the road crippled economic activities as people spend whole days in traffic losing precious work hours.
Makoju opined that the 2 kilometer road to the gate of Apapa is vital to the nation’s economy and described it as the national economy’s artery.
He commended the managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, who he said had put in extra efforts to ensure the handing over of the road for reconstruction as the project has been on ground for over a year. The new road, he said will be concrete based in contrast to laterite base and has a life span of between 30 years to 50 years.
He described the road reconstruction as a higher form of corporate social responsibility as Dangote Group is not asking for tax rebates. According to him, businesses need to engage with host communities through corporate social responsibility projects to ensure sustainability.
He said, “Here at Dangote, we have built houses, new towns, hospitals, schools, roads, markets and awarded scholarships in the communities where we have our operations but this is a higher form of corporate social responsibility. This project is a higher form of intervention on a national level, intervening in provision of critical infrastructure.”
However, he tasked government to do more in terms of providing a conducive and enabling business environment for businesses to thrive stressing that if the environment is conducive and right, businesses will thrive and do more in terms of interventions in national infrastructure.
Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, who was present at the MoU signing, said, “We are here to embark on what will be the final solution to a massive inconvenience business and people in Apapa suffered over the years. Apapa is the nation’s first industrial base and was served by a good rail system. Cargoes and containers were moved by rail to all parts of the country. The road network was for transport of passengers. The roads were good.
“However, we allowed the rails to collapse and choose road for evacuation of containers and cargoes. But we are working to stop all these. The minister of transport is taking steps to revive the rails and evacuation of cargo and containers from the ports.”
He disclosed that for several years, government adopted palliative measures towards the road while waiting for a final solution. He especially thanked Dangote Group and Flour Mills for coming take over the road for repairs. He said, “We must thank Dangote Group and Flour mills for coming to our aid via providing the funding for the repairs. The repairs estimated for a duration of one year is valued at N4.3 billion.”
Explaining why it took government some time before handing over the road for repairs, he said, “The delays in handing over the road for reconstruction was because of the need to put final touches to the road design. Apapa has high water table and any road built here must have proper drainages otherwise it will be experiencing constant flooding.”
He added, “We have done the survey and prepared the bill of quantity. The two kilometer road which will be based on concrete is estimated at N4.3 billion. A concrete base instead of laterite is chosen. Concrete base has a lifespan of between 30 to 50 years and in many developed countries, concrete base is used presently for roads. AG Dangote, a subsidiary of Dangote Group is chosen as the contractor. The construction and funding will be on corporate social responsibilities bases as they will not be seeking for tax reliefs.”
Fashola called on all stakeholders to corporate with the constructing company and traffic controllers because there would be distortions and road diversions. All road users should exercise patience because it will get better, he said.
Dangote Group build the 26 kilometer Itori-Ibese concrete road to replace the old worn out road in the community. The road was constructed by AG-Dangote as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.
Commissioning the road, Fashola said “It is historic in the sense that this is the first time a road of this size will be constructed in Nigeria using cement concrete.
“Countries that have achieved self-sufficiency in cement production have found it expedient to adopt the construction of concrete roads because they are cheaper, more durable and environment friendly.”
He said that government would continue to encourage indigenous companies like AG-Dangote to compete with international construction companies to build quality roads at affordable cost in order to consolidate and extend national road networks.
The president, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, urged the government to review the existing method of road construction in the country, saying that concrete roads were more durable than asphalt roads.
Dangote said that concrete roads were about 20 per cent cheaper than conventional asphalt roads and lasted longer with no potholes. He said that cement which constituted raw materials for construction of concrete roads was locally available compared to bitumen which were being imported.
Dangote said that the country was losing $1 billion annually due to the poor condition of roads in the country. Roads play an important role in the social and economic development of any nation.