Daily Trust Sunday
How federal highways fared in 2013
In early July, 2013, at the peak of the rainy season, members of the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen, in his office at Mabushi, Abuja. The curiosity of the visit lay in the fact that, rather than be an occasion to catalogue the woes of transporters, the latter came to express thanks for the vast improvement in the road network in the country. The luxury transporters were led by the association’s secretary, Mr Frank Nneji, who is also the founder of the ABC Transport Company, which is quoted on the Stock Exchange.
About six weeks before that courtesy visit, ABC Transport Company had slashed its fares in a widely published advert in The Punch newspaper of Monday, May 20, 2013, with the caption, “The Roads Are Getting Better,” and gave its reason solely as the marked improvement in the country’s arterial roads. Again, in October, the chief executive officer of Ifesinachi Motors, Prince Emeka Mamah, added his voice of praise to the federal government for the remarkable turn-around in the state of our highways.
With unflagging commitment to the rehabilitation, construction, and expansion of highways, the federal government is catalysing economic growth and national integration through road transportation. The wastages and suffering of a couple of years ago have been largely eliminated as travel times on some of the country’s notorious highways have been considerably reduced. This is why it is easy to appreciate the import of the courtesy visit by Luxury Bus Owners to the Minister of Works, and the deserving praise they showered on him.
By June, 2013, the Federal Ministry of Works had completed 32 road projects covering a distance of over 2,000km. These include the dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road section I (Ibadan-Oyo) in Oyo State, reconstruction of Vom-Manchok road in Plateau State, dualisation of Onitsha-Owerri Road (Section I) and Onitsha Eastern Bypass, in Anambra State, completion of the rehabilitation of Funtua-GusauSokoto road (section II: GusauTalata Mafara) in Zamfara and Sokoto States; completion of the rehabilitation of Katsina-Daura road in Katsina State, as well as completion of the rehabilitation of Ijebu IgboAjegunle-Araromi-Ife-Sekona Road (Section II) in Ogun State.
There are also a number of ongoing road dualisation projects of major arterial highways in the country. These include: Abuja-AbajiLokoja expressway; Kano-Maiduguri road; Lokoja-Okene-Benin road; construction of Loko-Oweto bridge over River Benue with approach roads in Nasarawa and Benue States; dualisation of Suleja-Minna road in Niger State; rehabilitation of Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway, rehabilitation of Sokoto-JegaKontagora-Makera road in Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states, and several others. What is heart-warming is that significant progress has been made in these ongoing dualisation and rehabilitation projects.
In addition, the construction of a new bridge over River Benue at Loko-Oweto is transforming into a reality. About 150 piles have been drilled along with one reinforced concrete abutment, while 22 piers have been constructed. The project has already reached about 35 per cent completion, ahead of the planned progress. To this we should add the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha, and the flag-off of the total reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. In fact, 2013 witnessed the flag-off of the reconstruction, or major repairs, of a number of very important roads, including Mokwa-Bida road, AkureIlesa road, Mbaise-Ngwa road, Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega road, and Owerri-Umuahia road. The conclusion is, therefore, inescapable that more happy motoring days beckon on federal highways.
Also, a number of roads have been given a new lease of life under the road development programme of the Federal Ministry of Works via the Road Sector Development Team – the collaborative platform between the Federal Ministry of Works (on behalf of the federal government) and the World Bank. Some road projects that have benefitted from this programme are: Jebba-Lafiaji road in Niger State; Takai-Albasu-Gaya road in Kano State; Nafada-Gombe Abba road in Gombe State; Hong-Mubi road in Adamawa State; Okpala-Igwurita road in Imo State; Ado-Ilumoba-
expressway was a source of embarrassment and agony to many Nigerians before the
administration of President Goodluck
Agbado-Ikare road, Sections A and B in Ekiti State; Dingaya-GalambiRungo road in Sokoto State; Rumukurshi-Chokocho road in Cross River State; Akure-Owo road in Ondo State; Kurfi-Chiranchi road in Katsina State; Lafiagi-Mokwa road in Niger State, and Lafia-Doma road in Nasarawa State.
The Apapa-Oshodi expressway was a source of embarrassment and agony to many Nigerians before the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Serious attention has been given to the road, resulting in the completion of Section I, while work is progressing on the trailer park, dedicated bridge leading to Tin-Can Island port from Liverpool roundabout, and the entire Section II, Phase II from Beachland junction to Cele Bus Stop.
Works are almost completed at the Benin-Ofosu end of the road where motorists hitherto suffered prolonged delays occasioned by perennial failed sections. A major part of the road has been asphalted while works are progressing at the recently awarded contract for the reconstruction of the outstanding sections on BeninOfosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Shagamu (Phase III).
The 553km-long KanoMaiduguri dualisation project is the major arterial highway connecting Kano to Borno states, via Jigawa, Bauchi, and Yobe states. Progress was hampered due to insecurity, leading to the kidnapping and death of some expatriate personnel. However, the Kano Western bye-pass flyover has been completed and opened to traffic. As government intensifies efforts at restoring normalcy in the NorthEast zone where these projects are domiciled, the Federal Ministry of Works will also accelerate its pace of work.
The Onitsha-Enugu highway project is 108.6km long. With the recently enhanced funding, the ministry has made substantial progress on the project. For instance, the Onitsha Head-Bridge end of Onitsha-Enugu highway up to Upper Iweka has been greatly improved with the recovery of the service lanes and its expansion to three lanes. Today, due to the success recorded on this stretch of road, coupled with the phenomenal improvement on the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road, it is now possible to leave Onitsha and arrive in Lagos in about six hours. This should be contrasted with the appalling situation when a journey from Benin to Lagos took upwards of nine hours in 2011, but now takes between three and four hours. Travel time between Abuja and Lokoja has also improved from four hours or more to about two hours. Similarly, travel time on KanoMaiduguri road has been reduced by half in the completed sections.
During the yuletide period, travellers to various parts of Nigeria came to terms with the quiet revolution that had gone on in the road sector these two past years.
Little wonder that the NigerianAmerican Chamber of Commerce, The Nigerian Pilot Newspapers and the Nigerian Society of Engineers, among others, honoured the Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen, with various awards for providing leadership in the on-going transformation of the road sector. Indeed, one sector in which the Jonathan administration made significant impact in 2013, in terms of service delivery which citizens can connect with directly, is the road sector.
Okwuosa wrote from Lagos.