Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, has lauded the decision of the Federal Government to reconstruct the failed Apapa Wharf road as its grim state serves as both an embarrassment to the country and a huge loss of close to N140 billion to the government on a weekly basis.
Dangote, who spoke to journalists on Tuesday, said, “The economy loses more than N20 billion daily. It affects businesses across the country.
All our operations in the hinterland in Ilorin, in Kano are operating at 40 percent maximum capacity”.
Lamenting the state of roads in the country, Dangote said: “Today there is no linkage road going from South West to the North. You have to go all the way through Ajaokuta, Obajana, Lokoja and you have to go by that uncompleted road Obasanjo started 13 years ago.”
Commenting on his resolve to personally get involved in the Apapa Wharf road reconstruction, he said: “Because it is very embarrassing! We can’t just sit and have a road like that where it is the heart of the trade of the country. More than 60 percent of our country’s imports and exports come through the port and we leave it un-attended. That is why we started on our own. Flour mills said they will join us, but now government changed the design because they want all the cables and pipes underground and to have a more robust solution.”
To help in bringing the cost down, he explained that he forced his company to do it at zero profit.
According to him, “Both Dangote and Flour Mills are pumping in over N2.5 billion for 2km double lane on each side making a total of 4km”.
He further explained that the biggest job “is drainage because that is what is destroying the road. We will make sure this problem is sorted out once and for all. This thing should not be allowed to happen. We started discussion with the government over one year and we are happy that we have been given the opportunity to finally fix it.”
It would be recalled that the Federal Government last weekend handed over the troubled road to Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) and Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) for immediate reconstruction with concrete overlay.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the construction of the road was signed by the Federal Government, DIL, NPA and the FMN.
Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, signed the agreement for the handover of the road on behalf of the Federal Government, while Hadiza Usman, Managing Director, NPA, and Joseph Makoju, Honorary Advisor to Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, and Gbedebo, signed for their respective organisations.
The three organisations are embarking on the project as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to Apapa, where they all do business.
The construction work to be handled by AG Dangote, a civil construction company, and joint venture between Dangote Group and AG of Brazil, would utilise concrete slabs as against asphalt, common with road construction in this part of the world.
AG Dangote is not new to road construction; it has successfully constructed concrete roads in Ibese, Ogun State and currently working on roads in Obajana, Kogi State and also in Benin City, Edo State.
Ashif Jumar, Managing Director and Chief Executive of AG Dangote, in a chat with the media also said: “We are building a four-kilometer concrete dual carriage road that has a life span of over 40 years. It is a rigid pavement road of 250 millimeters thickness with solid underlying materials… We have already mobilised to site, but our major challenge is the chaotic Apapa traffic and the inclement rainy season. I appeal for patience and cooperation.”
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony held at the Conference Hall of Area B Command of the Nigeria Police, Apapa, Honorary Adviser to the President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Engineer Joseph Makoju, said the Group is moved by the deplorable state of the road which informed the need to look for like-thinking partners to effect repairs and salvage the road.
According to him, the deplorable state of the road has impacted negatively on businesses, activities and lives of people within the locality.
He explained that the state of the road crippled economic activities as people spend whole days in traffic losing precious work hours