Updated: Traffic gridlock to ease along Keffi-Abuja way as Chinese coy intensifies expansion
Commuters plying the Keffi- Abuja expressway will soon heave a sigh of relief as the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Nigeria Limited, the firm handling the road expansion project, has intensified work on the road said to be a nightmare for motorists because of its notorious traffic gridlock.
Managing Director of CHEC, Zhang Wenfeng, told a group of select journalists on a visit to the site that the 5.4 km road is being expanded from Kugbo axis along the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the boundary between the FCT and Nasarawa state on five – carriage lane designed for a speed of 60 kilometer per hour.
This project is also predicated on the platform of the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI), which is focused on infrastructure development and connectivity between China and the Africa under the wider framework of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that commenced in 2000.
“When it comes to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), I believe it would shed new light on the development of projects related to the overall social welfare of Nigeria and the issue of international project financing,” Wenfeng said.
He noted that the project, which is part the Keffi-Markurdi road project, which starts from the southwest of Abuja, crosses Federal Capital Territory and the states of Nasarawa and Benue isbeing sponsored by the Chinese EXIM Bank by 85% while the Nigerian government will provide counterpart funding that falls within the 15% of its share in the project.
“The contract amount is $542.14 million, 15% of which is funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria and 85% is by China EXIM Bank in the form of Preferential Export Buyer’s Credit. The expansion and dualization of the existing carriage way promises to ease the long suffering of commuters and motorists on the Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi road,” he said.
Wenfeng noted that the federal government released a mobilization fund of $12 million approved by the 2018 budget while the China EXIM Bank released $69 million to enable the company move to site even as he expressed optimism that once the 2019 budget is passed and the needed funds released, the completion target of 2022 for the entire project will be realized.
On the challenges of the construction and the question of compensation for residents, whose land and property will be affected, the MD said the company in collaboration with the Federal Government is working out modalities to address the matter.
“We will, to the best of our effort, ensure to reduce dust and noise during the construction of Keffi-Makurdi road by using state-of-the-art equipment and plants that are, although costly, proven effective, and working more closely with relevant government agencies to exercise traffic control wherever needed. Eventually, we will be sure to minimize the impact on the socio-ecological environment, especially for residents in urban areas.
“The duration of the project is 36 months, and we officially commenced construction on April 1st, 2019, so the road is expected to be completed by 2022. The design we adopted is the new expansion and dualization on both sides of the road, so compared to the existing carriageway, there is expected to be a smoother transportation,” he said.
Suzie Agas, a Nigerian, who is the Human Resource Manager, told reporters that thousands of Nigerians are being engaged in the project as workers, which has enhanced their skills and technical capacities.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja