The road infrastructure remains the backbone of social and economic activities, as economic development is closely related to the condition of road development. Generally, roads are considered a country’s biggest public capital asset, as it can contribute immensely to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Nigeria has a national road network of about 200,000km. Of this total, federal roads make up 18 per cent (about 35,000km), State roads 15 per cent (about 17,000km), and local government roads 67 per cent (about 150,000km), with over 90 percent of the local government roads unpaved and over 50 percent unmotorable.
Experts say for Nigeria to achieve a national economic growth and development, an efficient road transport network has a critical role to play, adding that good road network across the country would greatly make positive impact in our national life. It would facilitate opening up of the rural areas, enhance investment and socio-economic activities, reduce accident rate as well as promote international perception index of Nigeria; thereby attracting Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) which is critical to economic growth.
For this reason, AG-Dangote Construction Company and other experts in the built environment have continued to clamour for a change of strategy and approach in road construction and management. Recently, the federal government and Dangote Industries flagged off the reconstruction of the roads and bridges in Ofeme Community in Abia State. The construction of the road, which will be handled by AG-Dangote, a subsidiary of Dangote Industries Limited.
The project is covered under Executive Order #7 of 2019, titled Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, where “Participating investors will use tax credits to reduce corporate taxes payable to government until they recoup the value of their investments in roads and bridges.” Speaking at the flag off event, president/chief executive, Dangote Industries, Aliko Dangote, extolled the federal government for the executive order #7 which allows private sector intervention in the provision of critical infrastructure. Dangote who was represented by the South South Regional Director of Dangote Cement, Mr. Okoro George, said a new dawn is coming to Ofeme community as the deplorable state of their roads would soon be a thing of the past.
He explained that the 16-kilometre road will form a ring road around Ofeme and connect it at two points to the Enugu Port Harcourt Expressway while the two bridges connecting the town to other communities would be rebuilt. According to him, “the entire road network will be built on concrete pavement instead of earth pavement which gives a lifespan of about 40 years, will contain drains on both sides while the surface will be made of concrete also instead of asphalt.”
He added that AG-Dangote has established itself as a construction company of repute having delivered the 26-kilometre Ibese-Itori concrete road in Ogun State, the 2 kilometre Apapa-Wharf dual carriage concrete road, the ongoing 43-kilometre Obajana-Kabba concrete road and the 35-kilometre Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway.
Dangote Group, he said, pioneered the use of concrete for road construction in Nigeria, adding “Countries that have achieved self-sufficiency in cement production have found it expedient to adopt the construction of concrete roads because they are cheaper, more durable and environment friendly. I believe Nigeria should not be an exception. We must move with the times.” He promised that Dangote Group is ready to partner more with government in the provision of critical infrastructure so as to lift the standard of living of the people.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, speaking at the flag off described the Ofeme Community road network reconstruction as a gigantic project that open the community and surrounding towns to development. The Minister, who was represented by Federal Controller of Works, Abia State, Engr. Nwankwo Chukwudike said the project on completion would open up access roads to manufacturing clusters in the area, reduce high cost of transportation and raise the standard of life for the people. He said movement of agriculture produce from the farming hubs will become cheaper and easier, bringing in more income.
President-general, Ofeme Progressive Union, Hon. Ndubuisi Kanu, in his welcome address, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and Dangote Group for selecting his community as one of the beneficiaries of Executive Order #7. He said, “We also use this medium to thank the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. Our thanks and gratitude goes to Alhaji Aliko Dangote who has shown so much love to the people of Ofeme.” Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah in his remarks at the flag off said the present administration, desirous of providing critical infrastructure, enacted Executive Order #7 which involves partnering the private sector. He said the road reconstruction project is one of the many development oriented projects coming to the community. Chairman of Dangote Cement, Aliko Dangote had earlier made strident calls for adoption of concrete roads in the country. He urged the federal government to embrace the option of using concrete for roads in the country. Aside from being very cheap, he said concrete roads are more durable and that its maintenance cost is near zero.
According to him, we are pushing for Nigeria to do a concrete road. It is cheaper to do a concrete road that will last over 40 years than to do a bitumen road. It will also help in eliminating corruption. The project is for the benefits of the community. It is obvious that the option for concrete roads will be the solution to solve the road infrastructural decay in the country. This is because concrete road is less expensive than asphalt road by almost 23 per cent and also we can build concrete road in less time. “Even in terms of maintenance, we don’t need so much resources to maintain it like the asphalt roads. In countries like Brazil, Portugal, India, where they use concrete roads majorly, they don’t have the type of road challenges we have in Nigeria because concrete roads can last for a minimum of 40 years as against asphalt roads that can last for between seven and eight years. So, the good option for the Nigerian government will have to be for them to embrace the use of concrete roads.”
Source: Olushola Bello