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  • Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lagos-Calabar coastal highway to cost N4bn per kilometre not N8bn – Umahi confirms

David Umahi, Nigeria’s minister of works has said the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway will cost N4 billion per kilometre and not N8 billion as indicated by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

For a 700 kilometre highway, the total project will be completed at the cost of N2.8 trillion.

Umahi made this known when he appeared as a guest on the Television Continental News Hour programme on Wednesday in Lagos.

The minister dismissed claim that the project didn’t follow the due procurement process, stating that the contract was awarded on a counter-funding basis and not on a Public-Private Partnership as widely claimed.

Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 general election, questioned President Bola Tinubu administration’s decision to allegedly award the contract to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech without competitive bidding.

He also noted that the president didn’t disclose the full cost of the Lagos-Calabar highway project.

Atiku wondered why the Tinubu administration released N1.06 trillion for the pilot phase, or six per cent of the project, which begins at Eko Atlantic and is expected to terminate at the Lekki Deep Sea Port.

In his response on Tuesday, Umahi said that despite the soaring costs of materials in the construction industry due to commodity price inflation and supply chain disruptions, the ministry is committed to prudence, promising to reveal the true cost.

The minister, in the interview, confirmed that the project would be completed within eight years, stating that with the use of concrete pavement on the four-lane carriageway, the project costs N4 billion per kilometre.

The former governor of Ebonyi also explained that although N1.06 trillion was appropriated, the full amount had not been disbursed.

“People are just building castles without knowledge and they don’t know figures, I will run the figures for you. We are going to compare the cross-section of the one the former vice president mentioned that was renegotiated for $11.1bn for 700 km.

“If you go back to what he has quoted, you will get over N8bn. So using concrete, which should be more expensive because of the kind of terrain we have, and using flexible pavement, which shouldn’t stand the coastal route, you will find out that our cost is N4bn instead of the N8bn claimed by the former vice president,” Umahi said.

On the mode of the construction process, the minister stated that the administration never envisaged the project under a Private Public Partnership arrangement but under an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Finance programme as currently used on the Abuja- Markurdi road project.

“This administration never envisaged the project under Private Public Partnership. It has always been under engineering, procurement, construction and finance.

And so under this kind of arrangement, as you have on the Abuja to Makurdi road project, the federal government is required to pay a certain amount for counterpart funding,” he said.

Meanwhile, this assertion comes in contrast to what the minister said on September 23, 2023, when he unveiled the design plan for the project, stating that Hitech Construction would fund the project under the Public-Private Partnership model.

“Let me announce that this project is under PPP. The Hitech group are 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 while speaking to journalists.

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