Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has disclosed that Nigeria still wants to connect to the rest of Africa through roads, like Mfum and Ikon bridges which were unveiled on Tuesday.
Fashola, speaking in an Exclusive on News Central TV’s Village Square Africa on Wednesday said the two bridges which connect Nigeria to Cameroon on the Southern side will help promote border relations and trade between both countries.
Like the bridges, the Minister revealed more roads are being constructed to connect Nigeria to Benin Republic, Niger and by extension, Algeria. He identified the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as one of such roads, as it will connect Nigeria to the Republic of Benin, while other roads in Kebbi, Kano, and Kwara State are also all expected to connect Nigeria to Benin. He added that the Nigerian government is also working on a road project in Kano, which will lead to Niger and has an extension to Algeria in North Africa. He however added that the government needs funds to complete these projects, as they will improve Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Fashola revealed that the Ikon and Mfum bridges were a brainwork of the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments and added that both countries came together to construct the bridges.
Nigeria With The Single Highest Concession Of Roads In Africa
In a new policy drive by the Nigerian government, tagged the Highway Maintenance Development Initiative (HMDI), Fashola said the government has concessioned twelve roads to companies for construction. He said the roads amount to more than 1,000kms and is the largest single concession in Africa.
He also added that the Nigerian government will soon start tolling on federal highways with a plan and tolling system expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Some Communities Seek Huge Compensation To Have Roads Constructed
He said some communities seek heavy compensation from the Nigerian government to cede their Right of Way for the construction of roads. Fashola said these are some of the challenges faced by the government in its attempts to take projects to some areas of the country.
He charged the leaders of these areas, in Southern Nigeria to speak to their traditional rulers and locals to cooperate with the government on these projects.
People Condemning Nigeria’s Borrowing Are “Home Economists”
Fashola said Nigeria’s borrowings are an investment into the future as the money is used for the construction of projects which will be used for many decades to come.
He said the people that criticise the government for borrowing are “home economists” and should learn more about public finance.
Nigeria has constructed a number of projects with money realised from Sukuk bond with more projects expected to be completed with the 2021 bonds, according to the Minister.
Second Niger Bridge To Be Ready Next Year
Fashola said the Second Niger Bridge which has been under construction for more than five years now, is expected to be completed by 2022.
He said the Nigerian government understands the economic and strategic importance of the bridge and will work hard to make sure it’s ready for use next year.
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