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Toll gates back soon as FG consults on handover of select roads to private partners

***As FG begins concessioning of 2225km of roads ***initiative to generate N160bn says Fashola

Amidst dwindling revenue shortfalls,the federal government is exploring options of handing over some select federal highways to private partners which could see toll plazas return through a proper concessioning structure by the infrastructure concession Regulatory Commission,ICRC.

Babatunde Fashola,the Minister of Works and Housing,said during a webinar conference on Highway Management Development Initiative monitored by BusinessDay on Thursday in Abuja said consultations have commenced towards facilitating the concessioning of some select roads, amid wider concerns of dwindling revenue resources of the federal government.

Fashola at the Webinar noted that 10 major high way routes totalling 2225km which represents 6.4 percent of the entire federal highway across the country would kickstart the first phase of the concessioning,noting that economic impact and linkages of the select routes were considered.

The Minister explained that the highway development initiative intends to revolutionalise the highway sector and create enabling environment for private involvement in the construction and management of nation highways,and auxiliary road infrastructure.

He posited that the initiative seeks to bring multidimensional resources and skills,manpower,finance,technology,and much more into Nigeria’s highway governance especially starting with 35 000 kilometers of federal highway network.

“What this initiative seeks to achieve is to bring order,accountability and profitable entrepreneurship into operation,management and maitenance of our federal highways,”Fashola noted.

According to Fashola,”What we have done is to identify 10 highways, which represented 2225 km,which is about 6.4percent of our 35 000 km highway network which would constitute the first phase of the Highway Development Maintenance Initiative.

The first phase of the 10 routes of 2,225km Fashola said can elicit an investment of over N160bn,approximating to about N16bn per route and unleash opportunities for prosperity.

On possible opportunities through the concessioning,he said, “We see opportunities for erecting of operational signages,all of which our ministry has designed, standardised. We see opportunities for toll plazas,and this has already been designed and standsrdised.

“We see opportunities for weighbridges,and construction of weigh houses to facilitates the operation of the weighbridges.We also see opportunities for wet and dry cargo,of which we have the design.

“We see opportunities for street lightning and advertising opportunities,and we see opportunities for rest houses which sites have been well designed.We also see opportunities for road maintenance and vegetation clearing,and enormous labour emplyment,as well as toying vehicle operations with thermostatic paints.For right of way for telecommunications support infrastructure.

Chidi Izuwa,the director general of infrastructure concession regulatory commission while applauding the initiative at the webinar noted that fast racking the economic sustainability initiative of the federal government has a lot of connectivity in our ability to close infrastructure gap.

One of the key participants at the webinar,Oscar Onyema,the Chief Executive Officer,Nigerian Stock Exchange assured the government that it woukdn work with everyone in the value chain to deliver the scheme.

Also Bola Onadele Koko the Managing Director of FMDQ OTC PLC said at the webinar that there must be a strategy to de-risk foreign exchange to attract investors into the road concessioning plan of the government.

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