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Economic impacts of on-going road projects

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As at the last count, there were some 524 on-going road projects across the federation. Every state of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja has at least three on-going projects according to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

The construction work spans across the states of the federation from Kano to Niger, Nasarawa and Taraba states in the northern axis to the South-West, South-East and South-South geo-political zones. This, no doubt, has, at the moment, made the country a major construction site not seen before.

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The Minister made the disclosure a couple of months ago while updating the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the ongoing road and bridge construction/rehabilitation projects nationwide.

He said 80 out of the 524 projects which are scheduled for completion in the 2020-2021 fiscal year would be prioritised and are expected to improve the ease of doing business in the country.
“The projects on completion will bring about reduced travel time, lower vehicle operating costs and improve the comfort of road users as well as improve the ease of doing business in the country and ultimately boost the Nigerian Economy, ” a statement by the Special Adviser to the minister, Hakeem Bello, quoted him as saying.

The federal roads, he said are major arterial routes connecting states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory. Besides, the roads and bridges linked cities with high economic activities and carried the majority of heavy vehicular traffic en-route to different parts of the country.

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The roads include Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin-Jebba-Kotangora-Jega-Sokoto-Niger Border as A1; Warri-Benin-Lokoja-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano-Daura-Niger Border as A2; Port Harcourt-Aba-Umuahia-Okigwe-Oturkpo-Makurdi-Akwanga-Jos-Bauchi-Maiduguri-Gamboru as A3 and Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala-Jalingo-Yola-Bama-Maiduguri as A4.

Others are the Lagos-Otta-Abeokuta-Ibadan as A5; Onitsha-Ihiala-Owerri—A.3 Junction at Umu Uyo as A6; Chikanda, Kosubosu-Kaiama-Kishi-Ilorin as A7; Mayo Belwa-Ganye-Serti-Mayo Selbe-Gembu as A8 and Jibiya-Katsina-Kano as A9.

Four bridges were also listed under the priority projects. These include the construction of Ibi Bridge, completion of construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba State, construction of Ikom Bridge in Cross River State and emergency rehabilitation/maintenance of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.

Two roads leading to ports are the construction of Agaie-Katcha-Barro Road in Niger State and construction of Baro Port to Gulu Town in Niger State.

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Work on the Second Niger Bridge connecting Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State is perhaps the mother of all the projects. With construction activities progressing at appreciable pace, after a pause following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the Mega Bridge is billed for delivery in 2022 according to the Minister, Babatunde Fashola.

Furthermore, some tertiary institutions in parts of the country are benefiting from the roads intervention projects. The institutions include the University of Benin where work is ongoing on the rehabilitation and Asphalt Overlay/construction of Reinforced Concrete Drains and Kerbs and Asphaltic Surfacing of three Car parks of 1.1KM Internal Road.

There is also the rehabilitation and asphalting at Bayero University, Kano; Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State; University of Maiduguri; Federal University, Lokoja; Federal College of Education, Katsina; Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

Others are the Kaduna Polytechnic; Federal University, Gashua internal roads, Yobe State and rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of 2.3 km internal road at Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, among others.

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The ultimate objective of these road projects, according to the Minister, is for road users to have better travel experience. Long hours of travel from one part of the country to the other will be a thing of the past as shorter and better routes are made open.

But prior to the completion of the projects, what economic benefits are there for Nigerians? How are the ordinary people faring under the biting economic hardship and what is the government doing about it?

The Minister has reiterated on several occasions that part of the aim of the massive undertaking in road projects is to avail the citizens the opportunity to do on-the-spot business that is linked to the projects. This is where President Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty comes into play.

The Minister had in the course of inspection of the various road projects in parts of the country in the first quarter of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, emphasized that it is President Buhari’s desire to see ordinary people make daily income from the projects by getting involved in supply and services to the contractors and workers doing the work. Presidents Buhari, it would be recalled, had reiterated the plan of his administration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.

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No doubt, many people would be wondering how this could be possible. Is the government going to give cash handouts of a million each to 100 million Nigerians over the period? Buhari believes that this objective is achievable by way of using infrastructural projects to empower the people through earned income.

As it were, the value-chain benefits to Nigerians are obvious when one visits any of the project sites and takes a close look at the entire workforce. This includes those involved directly or indirectly in the work.

At the apex of the beneficiaries are the big time contractors such as Julius Berger, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), PW Nigeria, Setraco Nigeria and a host of others.

Following these are the subcontractors who provide materials and services used in doing the work. At each level of the contracting engagement, thousands of Nigerians are employed to do the work. There is no information on the number of Nigerians who are engaged in road projects. Certainly, it runs into millions.

The gamut of those engaged includes cement suppliers. Thousands of tons of cement are used in the construction work. Those supplying the cement have more than enough job in their hands, which translates to huge income turnover.

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Iron rod suppliers, like cement suppliers, have more than enough job to do. Thousands of tons of iron rods are used in the construction of the concrete roads and bridges that are now in vogue. Consider, for instance, the quantum of iron rods needed in the construction of the Second Niger Bridge; it runs into millions of tons of iron rods, the supply of which givers job and empowerment to thousands of Nigerians.

Diesel suppliers are also in the group of major beneficiaries of the construction work. They use millions of litres of diesel in powering the construction machinery at the project sites.

Sand suppliers are the other major beneficiaries of the construction activities. This particular aspect involves the sand diggers from pit burrows or riverbed, tipper owners, drivers and their motor boys. The logistics chain is encompassing to benefit thousands of people.

Laterite/chippings suppliers: Across the federation close to the construction sites are quarries where chippings are produced from where contractors cart them with tippers. Thousands of people are engaged to provide this service.

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Over and above all, there are food vendors who mushroom at the construction sites. The food vendors popularly called mama-put, represent the grassroots/ordinary folks whose lives are transforming due to the construction activities going on around them.

Earlier in the year, precisely in February, when I was part of a team that visited project sites in the South-East and South-South, we discovered that women who were vending food to the workers were making fortune. The women interviewed reported making an average of N5, 000 daily. That translates to a minimum of N140, 000 a month or N1.68 million in a year. That is how lifting from poverty is achieved. The development is empowering for thousands of families of women providing these services across the federation.

It is amazing that at a time when many people are lamenting, thousands of others are reaping appreciable income daily by attaching themselves to the nearby road construction activities to provide services.

There is no doubt that a lot of construction work is on-going in different parts of the federation. Granted that the rainy season has always slowed construction, it is interesting that the season is shifting and dry season, which will be preceded by Harmattan, would ensue in the next couple of weeks. It is hoped that the Buhari administration would not relent in the work but should increase the tempo in order to benefit more Nigerians.

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