• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Buhari explains why Nigeria is rebuilding, expanding highways, bridges

Nigeria borrowing to develop infrastructure – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has explained why Nigeria is rebuilding, expanding or replacing its strategic highways and bridges across the country.

The president who spoke in Abuja at the African Road Builders’ inaugural conference and Africa Road Builders’ Award, known as the Trophee Babacar Ndiaye Award, mentioned regional connectivity and economic growth as major reason.

Buhari, who was represented at the conference by Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Works and Housing, told his audience that as the country was building roads, it was at the same time building its economy, citing the Apapa-Oworonshoki Highway in Lagos which, he explained, was strategic for trade and business facilitation to support the country’s busiest and largest Sea Port in Apapa and Tin Can Island.

The two ports, which are the busiest in the country, account for over 70 percent of export and impact activities in the country, making Apapa, the host town an estimated N20 billion a day economy.

Citing another example, the president noted, “the Suleja-Minna Highway is critical to our petroleum distribution network and access to strategic petroleum products Depot in Niger State; and it is receiving attention, while the Calabar-Itu-Odukpani unlocks access to agricultural produce and supports mining and extractive activities for construction, in the South South and South East of Nigeria.”

He said that these were only examples of over 13,000Km of road and bridge construction, expansion and rehabilitation nationwide, stressing that they have been a major boost for the growth of the country’s economy.

Read also: President Buhari and Nigeria’s ‘Burning Train’

He added that these roads and bridges construction had keeping people at work; driving a supply value chain, stimulating productivity at Quarries, Cement Factories, Steel Factories, and the Petroleum sectors for lubricants, fuel and bitumen.

“Our most recent GDP results of 3.40 percent, the biggest in the last 7 years, clearly show that the construction sub-sectors and related sub-sectors of the economy were among the big performers of the growth surge. Very evidently, infrastructure investment is good for the economy,” the president said.

At continental and regional level, the president mentioned some of Nigeria’s footprints in enhancing mobility, connectivity and trade facilitation through roads construction, noting that the interconnection of the African continent with major highways was designed to build and develop the economies of the different countries.

The president, who won the 2021 Trophee Babacar Ndiaye award, noted that the Trans African Highway programme, launched in 1971, sought to connect the whole of Africa through a major system of nine highways, the TAH1 to the TAH9, covering an aggregate distance of 56,683 kilometres.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), he said, was a financial institution set up to support the African countries in their developmental objectives, adding that the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) was set up to create a unified, borderless market of over one billion people to facilitate intra-African trade.

“I am delighted to report that Nigeria is playing her membership and leadership role in all of these institutions and in the pursuit of achieving their objectives,” he said, adding, “only a few days ago in the city of Lagos, our private sector opened a 3,000 metric tonne granular Fertilizer Company to support farmers and agriculturalists on the African continent and beyond.”

He revealed that Nigeria’s collaboration with AfDB had been productive and results were manifest in projects like the Mfum-Bamenda Bridge that connects Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroon.

He acknowledged the support of the Bank in financing feasibilities, consultancies and pre-construction work on the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor, comprising Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire which is part of Trans African Highway No. 7 from Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria.

“I am happy to report that the Nigerian section of this highway is now under construction on the Lagos-Badagry corridor through our local financing institution such as the Tax Credit Scheme introduced by Executive Order No. 7; and in collaboration with the Lagos State government.

I am able to report that apart from Trans African Highway No. 7, Nigeria is also connected by Trans African Highways No. 2, Algiers to Lagos and Trans African Highway No. 8, Lagos – Mombasa,” he said.

The president noted that the East to West crossing of Nigeria across the Second River Niger Bridge, which will be finished this year, is a major investment by Nigeria on the Lagos-Mombasa Trans African Highway, as is the Enugu – Abakaliki to Mfum Highway.