The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to Nigerians is to develop infrastructure that will uplift the living standard of the people, and not to share money.
The minister said this in Tatabu Village, near Mokwa, in Niger State, while inspecting the reconstructed and rehabilitated Ilorin-Jebba- Mokwa road project.
The 93.6 km road project, now completed, included the total reconstruction of Ilorin to Jebba axis, and the rehabilitation of failed portions from Jebba to Mokwa.
NAN reports that the Ilorin-Jebba road is part of the Lagos- Algiers road called Trans Sahara roads which cut across West and North Africa.
In Nigeria, the road connects the South-west geo-geographical zone to the Northern part of the country.
Addressing newsmen who accompanied him on the inspection, the minister said that, though the government is aware that Nigerians are complaining of no money, the present administration prefers to invest in infrastructure that would have ripple effects on the economy, rather than share the money with people and political stooges like the previous administration did.
“Yes, people are complaining of no money and high cost of living, but I want to tell you that it would have been worse today but for the massive infrastructural development this government is investing in.
“When people lay these complaints, they easily forget that, for 16 years, one political party was in power, sharing money while this road continued to deteriorate. APC in three years, has fixed this road to this level. I think it speaks volumes.
“Before now, it took close to five days for trucks to move from Ilorin to Jebba. Today, it takes only two hours. Today on this road, you can see free movement of goods and services which is the beginning of a revival of the economy,’’ he said.
According to the minister, Nigerians should thank God that they have an administration that is focused on investing in infrastructure. He said the government would not be distracted but remained focused on the development of infrastructure to better the lives of the people.
The minister recalled that the road project was awarded by the previous administration in 2013 and work was supposed to have started in 2014. He said when the Buhari administration came to power, the project was only 15 per cent completed.
Asked whether government would toll the road to raise money for its completion to Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna and for its dualisation, Mohammed said, not all roads could be tolled.
“This matter came up at the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and we agreed that not all roads could be tolled. The idea of tolling roads is to recoup the expenses on the construction and make them sustainable.
“A study is being compiled and at the end of it, it will be decided on what roads to toll and which not,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Atitebi Wasiu, who conducted the minister and his entourage on the inspection said the substantial part of the heavy traffic on the road was caused by heavily loaded trucks due to the import and export of goods through Lagos port.
Wasiu, the federal controller of works, Kwara State, said the average daily traffic for trucks alone on the road was about 7,500, while light vehicles accounted for about 7000. He said most of the vehicles abandoned the road before the rehabilitation.
“The road, which was constructed over 30 years ago, was abandoned by motorists for not less than 10 years due to its complete collapse. But trucks that had no alternative route would still come this way and spend three to five days to go by this 93,6km road from Ilorin to Jebba before the eventual intervention of the federal government,” he said.