• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Peter Obi to FG: Complete abandoned road projects before Lagos-Calabar coastal highway

N15bn budget allocation for National Assembly hospital insensitive— Obi

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general elections, has expressed reservations about the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project. He acknowledges the project’s potential but calls for a review of its costs and timing.

Obi said this in a statement released on his X account on Monday, pointing out the numerous incomplete road projects across Nigeria, which present safety hazards and hinder economic progress.

He questioned the rationale behind starting another large-scale project given the current backlog and the limited budget available for infrastructure.

The presidential candidate advocated for prioritising the completion of existing projects, emphasising fiscal discipline and the need to address the nation’s immediate infrastructure needs.

He suggested that completing and rehabilitating existing roads should take precedence over launching new, ambitious projects that risk remaining unfinished for decades.

The statement reads, “I have closely followed the comments and developments arising from the coastal (Lagos-Calabar) Super highway Project. While I’m hesitant to engage in contentious debates about its benefits, which I acknowledge, and the pricing, which I have serious concerns about, and believe should be thoroughly reviewed, I am compelled to raise essential questions about the timing and prioritization of such a monumental venture.

“At the forefront of my concerns is the pressing issue of numerous uncompleted roads scattered across the country, many of which have become hazardous death traps and security risks. It is disheartening to witness the plight of innocent Nigerians who traverse these dilapidated roads under perilous conditions, vulnerable to kidnappers and other dangers.

“Most of these roads, vital for economic growth, regional connectivity, and overall development, have been under construction for several years if not decades now and are unlikely to be completed any time soon due to poor and unplanned funding. Some of these roads in various zones include:

“1. NORTH-WEST Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, – Sokoto – Funtua – Zaria Road, Kano – Hadejia Road, Kano – Katsina Road , Zaria – Funtua – Shema – Tsafe – Gusau – Talata – Mafara – Sokoto Road , Kano – Kwanar – Danja – Hadejia Road

“2. NORTH-EAST Kano – Damaturu – Maiduguri Road – Mubi – Maiduguri Road, Nguru – Gashua – Bayamari Road, Gombe – Biu – Numan Road, Dikwa – Marte – Monguno Road, Potiskum – Fika – Bajoga – Gombe – Biu Road , Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Tongue Road , Tumu – Pindiga – Kashere – Bashar – Wase – Wamba – Nassarawa Road

“3. NORTH-CENTRAL Abuja – Lokoja – Okene- Auchi – Benin Road , Ilorin – Jebba Road Kabba – Omuaran Road , Suleja – Minna Road, Makurdi – Gboko – Yandev – Katsina-Ala Road, Buruku Bridge across Katsina River.

“4. SOUTH-WEST Lagos – Badagry Road , Ibadan – Ife – Ilesha – Osogbo Road , Itoikin – Ijebu Ode – Ibadan Road, Ibadan – Ilorin – Jebba – Mokwa – Bokani Junction Road Abeokuta – Ibadan Road, Ikorodu – Shagamu Road, Ado – Igede – Aramoko – Itawure Road Ajasse Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Border Road

“5. SOUTH-EAST 9th Mile – Oturkpo -Makurdi Road, Enugu -Port Harcourt Road , Onitsha – Awka – Enugu Road , Onitsha – Owerri – Umuahia Road, Bende – Arochukwu – Ohafia Road , Okigwe – Afikpo Road , Nsukka – Obollo Afor Ehamafu – Nkalagu Road, Oba – Nnewi – Okija Road

“6. SOUTH-SOUTH Benin – Sapele – Warri Road, East – West Road, (Warri – Kaiama – Ahoada – Port Harcourt – Eket – Oron) Yenegoa Road, Junction – Kolo – Otuoke Road, Sapele – Agbor – Ewu Road, Benin – Akure – Ore – Ife Road, Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri Road, – Jattau – Fugar – Agenebode Road, Bodo – Bonny Road with Bridge across Opobo Channel , Port Harcourt – Onne Road, – Agbor – Sakpoba – Ogharefe Road, Odukpani Junction – Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Umuahia Road.

“The Federal Ministry of Works 2024 capital budget of N892,461,262,656.00, additional funding from multilateral loan projects of N94,828,535,243.00, alongside other expected contributions from sources like the China-Exim Bank and the World Bank, will not be enough for serious work on all the critical roads, some of which I enumerated above, let alone their completion.

“So, why embark on another huge project that will not be completed in the next 20 or 30 years? To do so will only exacerbate the problem of abandoned, uncompleted projects that are not contributing to economic growth and overall development. It will merely worsen our already sagging debt burden. Given the state of our economy now, prioritization and fiscal discipline should be our critical guiding principles now.

“Therefore, while acknowledging the potential benefits of coastal superhighway infrastructure, I urge prioritization of our existing uncompleted projects. We must allocate resources towards repairing and completing existing infrastructure, crucial for the well-being and safety of our society, before embarking on new projects, no matter their perceived benefits. Let’s prioritize the urgent needs of our people and ensure that our investments serve the collective good of the nation.

“In any development formula, the primary focus should be on completing and rehabilitating existing infrastructure rather than embarking on colossal new projects that may never reach completion within the next 30 years.”