The Federal Government has approved the commencement of work on the section of the road linking Nigeria with Seme Border with Republic of Benin.
Babatunde Fashola, Nigeria’s minister of Power, Works and Housing, stated this on Sunday at the 12th Ministerial Steering Committee and Experts Meeting for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme in Lome, the Togolese Capital.
He, however, said the project would be done in a flexible way in order to improve commuter service while also making it adaptable to the results of the feasibility and technical studies.
The minister, who is also chairman of the Ministerial Committee overseeing the project, expressed delight that while the personnel of presidents and ministers who launched the initiative have changed, the commitment to the project has not changed, adding that the committee had now put in place a system where meetings were now being held quarterly.
“From a period between 2013-2016 when no meetings were held because of changes in government and personnel, we have now put in place a system where meetings are held quarterly,” Fashola said, adding that this had enabled the committee to overcome the problems of signing treaties and loan agreements which dragged for a while but which happily have now been completed.
Pointing out that feasibility, technical, financial and related contracts which seemed so far from conclusion have now been signed, Fashola paid glowing tribute to the founding presidents of the committee for their vision of choosing “to go far as a team rather than going fast as individuals”.
“Going together, therefore, means working as partners, recognising and respecting each other’s sovereignty and Governmental processes as well as diversity of languages. Therefore, while the personnel of presidents and ministers who launched this initiative have changed, the commitment to the project has not changed,” he said.
The minister further described the project as testimony of the strong bond among the ECOWAS countries to pursue common goals and aspirations to ensure the development of the sub-region both in terms of standard of living for the people and the level of communication between the countries, adding that the development of the corridor would enhance rapid integration that was already existing in other economic blocs of the world. It will also improve socio-economic activities among the West African countries, Fashola said.
While hosting the 9th Ministerial Steering Committee and Experts Meeting for the Corridor in Abuja last year, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had emphasised the importance of the project, describing it as a strong testimony to the strong relationship among ECOWAS countries.
“We believe it would promote regional integration, enable tourism and other forms of economic activities in the sub-region and create the much needed job for our large youth population,” Osinbajo had said, adding that connecting West Africa by means of an efficient road network was one of the easiest and most direct ways of boosting local and international economies and by extension, regional economies of the West African sub-region.