The company reconstructing the Wharf Road in Apapa, Lagos, AG Dangote has said that all the concrete works in the on-going project would be completed this month, while the Obajana-Kabba road in Kogi State would be finished by December, this year. Bennett Oghifo reports
Both roads are being reconstructed by the Dangote Group as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The road project is being funded by Dangote, Flour Mills and NPA.
The Project Director of AG-Dangote Construction Company Limited Olatunbosun O. Kalejaiye, who led journalists on a tour of both projects at the weekend, said the concrete works of Wharf Road, Apapa, Lagos is at 75 per cent stage and that it would be completed before the end of this month.
He said 29 kilometres have been completed out of the 43 kilometres Obajana-Kabba road in Kogi State and that the whole project, which is also Dangote Cement Plc.,’s CRS project would be due in December, this year.
When all the concrete works are done on the two-kilometer Wharf road, the company intends to focus on minor installations like the crash barriers, street lights and drainage linking for easy flow of storm water, and drainage covering.
On the fate of the 43-kilometre Obajana-Kabba stretch, which is the longest concrete road project in the country, Kalejaiye said, “There is nothing to worry about; we will deliver the 43km rigid pavement by December.”
President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who toured the Wharf Road project recently, said, “The quality of the road is very impressive and amazing; I thought we were doing just a normal road, even in Germany, you cannot find this road would last at least two generations. It is so solid that it can take any weight and traffic and they are doing a great job. If you look at the quality of work they are doing, it is not only the job but also the quality, so that we don’t actually leave here then after two or three years contractors will now have to come back.
“I can assure you that once we leave this job, none of us here alive will actually see the end (the lifespan) of this road. That is how solid the road is going to be,” he said.
Dangote restated that the project was purely corporate social responsibility, explaining that he intervened to prevent the road from deteriorating further. “We try to do our best to contribute to development. If Dangote and Flour Mills had not taken the initiative, this road would have been like this for more years to come and everybody is losing money.
“Even if some of us can actually afford to lose money, the smaller businesses will not be able to pull through all these. If you have one container and it is stuck in the port for days, you’ve been charged demurrage, you pay high fees, at the end of the day when you sell you goods, you’ll not be able to pay your loan. That is why I feel we need to do this, government cannot do everything, we need to also do our own bit.
He explained that their intervention was not public private partnership, but CSR, adding that PPP was the way to go, as is done all over the world, so that government can concentrate on other areas of development like health, education, defense, among others. “It is difficult for any government to fund infrastructure and at the same time fund the daily needs of the people.
“The current government has embraced PPP and is coming out with a very good model, like that of the road and I’m sure you’ll see a very big difference in one or two years.”
Dangote had said plans were being perfected to build Nigerian roads with concrete, stressing that resources used in road repairs and maintenance would be channeled to other more important needs of the nation.
He said, “We are going to be building concrete roads in the country so that anytime we build a road, we do not have to go back to repair after the third raining season, but move on and use the resources to address other pressing needs of Nigeria.”
The Obajana-Kabba would also last a long time, said the Project Manager, Akhimienho Emmanuel, who predicted it would last for two generations (more than 50 years).
Meanwhile, commercial activities have started springing up along the Obajana-Kabba road in Kogi State. Traditional and community leaders eulogized the President of the Dangote Group Aliko Dangote for bringing, “this massive road project in their land.”
The Bajana of Obajana Land, King Idowu Senibi described the project as gigantic and the first of its kind anywhere in Nigeria.
“Dangote is our son. We would protect his huge investment and gigantic concrete road. I am happy that this is happening in my lifetime and in my Kingdom. This is a great opportunity for us and many generations to come. Our society will be opened as you can see vehicles and commercial activities have started coming up. May God Almighty bless Dangote and all his staff.”
He said Obajana was like a village before the coming of Dangote Cement Plc but now “our population is about 70,000 people and is still growing.”
Speaking in the same vein, the traditional head of Akpata Land Frederick Durojaiye Balogun said his people were very proud of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, adding that the Dangote Cement, Obajana plant, which is the single largest cement plant in the world, has brought honour and respect to their Kingdoms.
“His presence has brought a total turnaround in our lives. Also permit me to appreciate the Federal Government for this joint effort. We are very grateful,” he said.
Speaking, the King of Okebunku Land in Kabba Bunu Local Government, Timothy Omonile commended the President of the Dangote Group and charged other philanthropists to emulate him, adding that that is the only way Nigeria can develop its economy and infrastructure.
Some of the motorists interviewed said the concrete road has brought relief to them. A commercial driver, Adeniyi Adeniji, 50, from Ogun State said he has been plying the road for several years and that it always took him hours to drive through Obajana-Kabba, but now it takes him less than 45minutes.
Comrade Albert Monday, 33, who is the youth leader of the Ayegunle Igun Bunu Kabba Local Government, said his people were very happy about the ‘Dangote road’ as the rate of accident and criminalities have drastically fallen.
A community leader and retired policeman at Kilometer 29 of Ayegunle Igun Bunu Kabba Local Government, Mathew Robinson, 74, expressed optimism that when completed, kidnapping and armed robbery incidences will be completely wiped out of the region.
“Even unborn baby is very happy and proud about this road now,” he added.
Mr. Muhammad Salihu, 30, a yam seller at the Ayegunle market expressed satisfaction that the road is almost completed, saying his yam business which was dead before is now booming.
It would be recalled that as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS), the Dangote Group had earlier commissioned the 26 km Itori-Ibese Concrete Road.
At the commissioning, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had noted that the stride by the Dangote Group demonstrated the unwavering commitments of an indigenous investor towards the industrialization of Nigeria.