Nigeria may be losing as much as $1billion (N2 trillion) yearly to poor state of the country’s roads, especially those along the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) corridor, thus limiting the growth of inter-African trade.
Speaking during the commissioning of a 26-kilometre Itor-Ibese concrete road constructed by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) in Ogun State at the weekend, Minister of Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola solicited the collaboration of members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in government’s infrastructural renewal and development initiative by exploring opportunities in Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) options.
Fashola added that the government is open to PPP initiatives and interventions that can assist the nation in addressing its infrastructural deficit by offering them tax concessions in accordance with the provisions of section 3(1) and (2) of the Companies Income Tax Act (CAP, 21 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Companies Income Tax (Exemption of Profits) Order 2012 to help recover part of the cost of the project.
To address the challenges with infrastructure in the country, Fashola urged indigenous companies to compete with the traditional international construction companies to build quality roads at affordable cost in order to consolidate and extend the national road networks.
Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun commended Dangote Industries for the initiative noting that the project will go a long way in easing vehicular movement and in promoting economic activities within not only Ibese and its environs but also the entire Ogun State.
Speaking at the commissioning, President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote explained that the road, which is the longest stretch of concrete road in the country today, was constructed by AG-Dangote Construction Limited, a joint venture company with Andrade Gutierrez (AG), a construction company in Brazil.
He noted that one of the major infrastructural challenges that Nigeria faces today is lack of good quality roads, as most of the nation’s highways are in a very deplorable condition due to lack of proper maintenance.
Making a case for use of concrete in road construction, Dangote said, “The Nigerian cement industry as our contribution to finding a cost-effective and lasting solution to this problem, has been advocating the construction of concrete roads as a more viable alternative to asphalt roads.
That is why we at DIL, are venturing into the construction of concrete roads. Today’s ceremony is just the beginning for us, as we will soon embark on the building of more concrete roads in other states of the Federation, including Lagos, Bauchi, Kogi and Kaduna.
The African continent’s richest man said, “Due to the deplorable state of the roads, travelers on our inter-state routes often spend longer hours on the roads than they should. Obviously, this calls for a review of our existing method of building roads in Nigeria. Roads play an important role in the social and economic development of any nation.
“First, concrete roads are not only about 20 percent cheaper than the conventional asphalt roads, but they also last longer and do not have potholes. Also, concrete roads do not require frequent maintenance and they save fuel for motorists and protect tyres from wear and tear,” Dangote explained.
He added, “Another advantage of concrete roads is that cement, the basic raw material is for construction, is available locally, and is cheaper to use in the long run than bitumen, a petroleum-based product that is presently imported.
I believe that the introduction of concrete roads will enable the government to find lasting solution to the poor road network in the country, and also reduce the burden of constantly sourcing for funds to repair roads,” the business mogul said.
Managing Director of AG-Dangote, the construction company, Ashif Juma commended Aliko Dangote for initiating the project, adding that the firm is optimistic that future road constructions in the country would be concrete-based, in line with global trend.