The President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has said the first phase of the on-going road construction from the Apapa port to Toll Gate on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will be ready before the end of December. Dangote said this yesterday during an inspection of the construction work, which is expected to pass through Apapa port, Tincan, Mile 2, Oshodi, Anthony, Oworonshoki, up to the toll gate.
The Dangote president was accompanied by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who advised the private sector to raise infrastructure bonds at concessionary rates. Emefiele said this was to support the federal government's infrastructural development drive.
Speaking during an interview with journalists at the Toyota Bus Stop end of the road, Dangote, Africa's richest man, explained that the construction work, which started some months ago, was under the Presidential Order Number 7. The order allows companies to build roads and have the money spent deducted from their three-year taxes.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative and called on other corporate organisations to be involved in infrastructure development.
Dangote stated, "We started the road right from the port at Apapa. We are building 10 lanes - five lanes on each side - and there is drainage on both sides and streetlight. It is a concrete road. It is the first heavy concrete road that is up to about 35 kilometres. We would also maintain it for five years. This road will last up to 100 years.
"Government gave us 36 months to complete this project, but I can assure you that we would finish it in 15 months. We should be able to finish before the end of next year.
"I can assure you that this portion of the road that is under construction would be completed before the end of the year."
He added, "We want to go a little bit further before we inform Mr. President. But in the coming days, we are going to inform the Minister of Finance and Minister of Works and Housing about the progress so far."
According to Dangote, the road, when completed, would help address the challenges faced by businesses in clearing goods from the ports.
"In 2018 and part of 2019, we paid over N30 billion as demurrage for goods that we imported into the country. So, you can imagine what the smaller companies would have paid. We have lost a lot of revenue because to get out of Apapa is not easy," he said.
The President of Dangote Group said the whole project was expected to cost about N73 billion.
He said, "The Federal Ministry of Works is very happy with what we are doing and their engineers are here with us. This is a road that would be a showcase, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa.
"Mr. President has approved almost 800 kilometres of roads to be done under this Presidential Order Number 7. But the government really needs to advertise some of these things they are doing, because people need to know what is happening here.
"When you look at majority of the roads under construction in Nigeria, some of them started 15 years ago and till now are still under construction.
"We are looking at this as an intervention and we should not leave everything to the government. We think other private individuals should do same. If they are paying taxes, they should join in rebuilding these roads."
In his own remarks, Emefiele thanked Mr. President for signing the Executive Order Number 7, which opened the opportunity for private companies, such as Dangote and others, to intervene to rebuild infrastructure in the country. He also thanked Dangote Group for taking the initiative.
He described the construction work as a model road.
Emefiele stated, "These are the kind of roads we see when we travel abroad. It is a good thing for this country. When we talk about the Ease of Doing Business, you can imagine a situation where people have been complaining about the ease of transporting their goods out of the Apapa port.
"I am very delighted that Alhaji Dangote has taken the initiative. After clearing goods at the ports, there should be a solid road where these trucks can pass through to make life easy for people. These roads certainly would open up Nigeria and Lagos.
"Talking again about local content, this is 100 per cent local content. Alhaji Dangote uses his cement on this road, the rods, I understand, are coming from African Foundries that smelt waste steel, which is converted into iron bars and are being used for the road."
The CBN governor added: "Let me say this, for those who may be interested, the federal government has been discussing issues around rebuilding the road infrastructure and we are looking at the opportunity of raising infrastructure bond to fund some of these roads.
"But because of the paucity of funds, we are encouraging private sector people to come in and raise infrastructure bonds at concessionary rates, with which they can build roads to support the efforts of government in developing this country.
"That is the only way this country can grow. This is what we need for our country so that Nigeria can regain its lost grounds. This is the right time for Nigeria to make progress in the area of infrastructure.
"When Alhaji invited me here, I was delighted because these are the kind of things we need to see and we need to talk about."