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By The Jonathan Project

On assumption of office, I pledged to carry out enduring reviews of extant policies in the Road Sector in Nigeria with the ultimate aim of entrenching institutional and legal frameworks that will attract private investors in line with best global practices. I also identified a number of interventions that the Federal Ministry of Works under my leadership would carry out on Nigerian roads to make them motorable, safer and pleasurable for road users.

About one year after thereafter, Nigerians from different parts of the country can attest to the fact that the Federal Ministry of Works is recording phenomenal success in transforming the road sector within this time-frame,even as signs of a better road development are becoming clearer by the day.

At the inception of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's administration and on our assumption of duties as Honourable Minister of Works and Honourable Minister of State for Works, we at the Federal Ministry of Works identified a number of challenges facing road development in the country. These include:

· Inadequate Planning;
· Poor Design;
· Ineffective Supervision;
· Bureaucratic Project Management Structure;

· Lack of Strong Quality Assurance;
· Inadequate Funding.
We moved quickly to address these challenges by restructuring the Ministry to provide the needed capacity through the decentralization of the bureaucratic project management structure which we inherited, for better delivery of road projects.

Six Zonal Directorates of Highways were created to better manage and supervise construction works on sites within the geopolitical zones.

Independent Zonal Monitoring Teams for the six geopolitical zones were also constituted with membership drawn from the private sector to provide independent report on projects and activities in the zones. This measure coupled with the activities of the newly created Department of Materials, Geotechnics and Quality Control has led to better service delivery in the sector.

Specifically, from the 160 Nos. of ongoing projects we inherited, we have pursued the diligent execution of the prioritized projects, ensuring that adequate progress is being made towards completing the projects on schedule, and in line with specifications.

I will now dwell on some of the major priority projects in the Federal Ministry of Works under my supervision:

1) The Apapa-Oshodi Expressway which was becoming an embarrassment and a source of agony to many Nigerians before the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan because of its deplorable condition, has been improved upon tremendously in the past one year. Only last weekend, I led an inspection of the ongoing works on this road and the current expansion of the road, drainage works, construction of Trailer Park and the construction of a dedicated bridge leading into Tin-Can Island Port from Liverpool Round-About, were very re-assuring.

2) The Benin-Ore-Shagamu highway is another project where we have achieved a major milestone in the past one year. The highway is 262.5km long. The contract for the reconstruction of the road project is being executed by Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited and Borini Prono & Company Nigeria Limited. Before the intervention on this road by President Jonathan's administration, Nigerians will recall how motorists spent over 9 hours to travel from Benin to Lagos or vice versa. But, thank God today that the travel time has now been reduced to 4 hours or less even when the project is still ongoing. Works are almost completed at the Benin-Ofosu-Ore parts of the road where motorists hitherto suffered prolonged delays occasioned by perennial failed sections. A major part of the road has been asphalted and I receive phone calls from numerous Nigerians everyday expressing their appreciation over the works that have been carried out on the road. The marked improvement on this road that connects the South-West to the South-South and the South-East, has led to the reduction of air traffic between Benin City and Lagos, as citizens now prefer to drive on the largely improved highway. One of the key performance indicators in the road sector is improved travel times on the road; and this we have achieved on this and other roads in the past ten months.

3) The Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja dualization road project is an arterial highway linking South-East, South-South and South-West from the nation's capital city of Abuja. The Abuja-Lokoja section of the road is 196km long and was awarded in 2006 in four sections to; Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Limited (Section I), Reynolds Construction Company Limited (Section II), Bulletine Construction Company Limited (Section III) and Gitto Construzioni Generalli Limited (Section IV). Due to poor funding in the past, the project recorded low progress. However, in the past ten (10) months, the Federal Ministry of Works has concentrated efforts and resources on this road resulting in marked improvement on the motorable condition of the road. This road which was notorious for its high accident rate has witnessed a reduction, following the opening of the Giri and Gwagwalada Bridges, as well as completed Sections of the road to vehicular traffic. With enhanced funding from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) the Federal Ministry of Works plans to complete the project by October, 2014.

4) The Kano-Maiduguri Dualization road project is the major arterial highway connecting Kano to Borno States, via Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe states. The road is 553km long and was also awarded in 2006 in five (5) sections to Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Limited (Section I); Setraco Nigeria Limited (Section II); Mothercat Limited (Section III) CGC Nigeria Limited (Section IV); and CCECC Nigeria Limited (Section V). The project witnessed increased progress of construction works in the past ten months. The Federal Ministry of Works plans to accelerate the pace of works towards completing the project by December 2014, with additional resources from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, (SURE-P).

5) The Onitsha-Enugu road project is 108.6km long. The contracts for the rehabilitation were awarded to CCC Nigeria Limited and Nigercat Construction Limited. Like other major road projects, the slow pace of work on the road in the past was attributed to inadequate funding. But with enhanced funding from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), full work has resumed on the projects as target date for completion is December, 2013.

6) The Ibadan-Ilorin Road is a Section of Route A1, a major North-South Arterial highway. It is 151.5km long and it passes through major towns such as Oyo and Ogbomosho. Contracts for the dualisation of the road were awarded in three Sections. Section I [Ibadan-Oyo] and Section III [Ogbomosho-Ilorin] were awarded to PW Nigeria Limited and RCC Nigeria Limited respectively, in 2001. Section III has since been completed while Section I is nearing completion. In order to complete the dualisation of the road, contract was awarded to RCC Nigeria Limited in 2010 for the remaining Section II [Oyo-Ogbomosho], and appreciable progress has been made on this section in the last ten months.

In the last six months, the following road projects have either been completed or substantially completed:

· Construction of Gombe-Bye-Pass in Gombe State.

· Rehabilitation of Katsina-Daura Road, Katsina State

· Rehabilitation of Aba-Owerri road in Abia State

· Construction of Eleme Junction Flyover and the Dualisation of Access Road to Onne Port, Phases I & II in Rivers State

· Rehabilitation/Construction of Ijebu Igbo-Ajegunle-Araromi-Ife-Sekona Road, Section II in Ogun and Osun States

· Emergency Reinstatement of Collapsed Section of Gombe-Potiskum Road [Km.12] in Gombe State.

· Completion of the construction of Mararaba-Bali road in Taraba State.

· Rehabilitation of Hadejia-Nguru Road, Phase I [Hadejia-Kirikasama] in Jigawa State

· Dualisation of Onitsha-Owerri Road [Section I] and Onitsha Eastern Bye-Pass Section I in Anambra State

· Completion of the Rehabilitation of Obiozara-Uburu-Ishiagu-Awgu Road, Phase I, in Ebonyi and Enugu States

· Construction of a bridge at Lafenwa in Ogun State

· Rehabilitation of 8 Nos. Expansion Joints on 3rd Mainland Bridge [Phase I] in Lagos State

· Dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road Section I [Ibadan-Oyo] in Oyo State

7) The Loko-Oweto Bridge is another major project that is very dear to the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan because of its strategic importance in the national road network.The Bridge is located across River Benue linking Nassarawa State to Benue State. When completed, the 1,970m long Bridge will increase commercial activities in that part of the country as it will provide a short link, and therefore reduce travel times between the Northern and Southern part of the Country. The bridge is being constructed by Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited. The project duration is four years but the Federal Ministry of Works plans to fast-track the project so that it can be completed in three years with enhanced funding from the SURE programme.

8) The Onitsha Head-Bridge end of Onigtsha-Enugh highway up to Upper Iweka Junction is an area the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has done a great deal of work in the past one year. The rehabilitation of the road and the complete recovery of the service lanes that have been expanded to 3 lanes on both sides, have improved travel times along the route, and significantly reduced the traffic bottle-neck that was hitherto experienced in the area. Motorists in Onitsha and the Government of Anambra State have commended the efforts of Federal Government on the road in recent times. 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 Lagos in six hours.

9) I am glad to add that the efforts of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works have also led to the completion and opening of the Kano Western Bye-Pass Flyover in Kano State to motorists as part of the ongoing dualization of the Kano-Maiduguri road. Although security challenges on this road have recently slowed down the pace of construction work, efforts are ongoing to surmount the challenges and regain the momentum of construction work on the road.

10 Work has been completed at the 16km stretch Kaduna Eastern Bye-Pass between Kakau and Kachia Road Flyover in Kaduna State and motorists now feel comfortable using the Bye-Pass thus ensuring improved travel times and safety on the road.

11 The 84-kilometre Lafia-Awe-Obi-Tunga Road in Nasarawa State is also a major concern to this administration. Though the project is being hindered by paucity of funds, the Contractor, Triacta Nigeria Limited has constructed about 10 kilometres from earth work up to surface dressing since January 2012.

12 The threats of Washouts and Gully Erosion on the nation's roads have become a recurring decimal in parts of the country. The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works has risen to the challenge with prompt reinstatement of affected roads in the past one year. Notable among them include -

(i) Gombe-Potiskum road Washout in Gombe State. The Federal Ministry of Works awarded the construction of a 5-span Bridge of 75 metres long in October 2011. The progress of work has now reached 80%.

(ii) The Auchi-Okene road Washout in Edo State, which contract was awarded in September, 2011, has also been reinstated and opened to traffic. The highway which was also cut into two during the disaster has been completely recovered and re-opened, as motorists plying the road have not stopped showing appreciation to the Federal Government on what initially seemed insurmountable to them.

(iii) The Ayogwiri road Washout in Edo State has also been fully recovered and the road opened to motorists.

(iv) Onitsha-Enugu road Washouts at Km 6, km 30 and km 35 in Anambra State have also been recovered. These three Washouts which were a menace to the Federal Highways have been reinstated.

The Ministry is collaborating with multi-lateral agencies like ADB, World Bank, etc in financing the rehabilitation of the following critical road projects:

i. Enugu-Abakaliki road (flagged-off in January 2012)

ii. Abakaliki-Ogoja Junction road (Nearing Completion);

iii. Ogoja Junction-Ikom road (flagged-off in February 2012);

iv. Ikom-Mfum road [Completed];
v. Gombe-Biu road [Design review stage];

vi. Mokwa-Bida road [Design review stage];

vii. Akure-Ilesha road [Design review stage]; and

viii. Bridge over Cross River from Cameroun to Mfum [review of bidding document stage].

Additionally, the following roads are variously undergoing periodic maintenance under the road development programme through the collaboration between Federal Ministry of Works and the World Bank:

i) Jebba-Lafiagi Road in Niger State

ii) Takai-Albasu-Gaya Road in Kano State

iii) Nafada-Gombe-Abba Road in Gombe State

iv) Hong-Mubi Road in Adamawa State

v) Kurfi-Charanchi Road in Katsina State

vi) Okpala-Igwurita Road in Imo State

vii) Ado Ilum-Ikare Road, Section 1 in Ekiti State

viii Dingaya-Rungo Road in Jigawa State

(ix) Rumukurushi-Chokocho Road in Rivers State

(x) Akure-Benin Road in Ondo/Edo State

(xi) Ado Ilum-Ikare Road Section 2 in Ekiti State

xii) Lafiagi-Mokwa Road in Niger State

xiii) East West-Odi Road in Bayelsa State

xiv) Lafia-Doma Road in Nasarawa State
The Federal Ministry of Works Headquarters Building in Abuja has also been renovated to give it an improved corporate appearance especially with the recent restructuring of the departments which has impacted positively on the morale of the staff. Major work towards the final completion was actually carried out in the past ten months since taking over the reign of leadership in the Ministry.

The rehabilitation of the Jebba Bridge which includes hydrodemolition and replacement of expansion joints, asphalting, road furniture and street lighting has almost been completed under the past one year of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.

The contract for the repair/replacement of the Expansion Joints of the Third Mainland Bridge Phase II was awarded in December 2011 to Borini Prono & Company Nigeria Limited. The Contractor has mobilized to site, and the contract is expected to be completed before the end of 2012.

The road network in Nigeria is about 200,000 kilometres. Out of this figure, the Federal Roads is about 35,000 kilometres. The pressure on the Federal Government to provide additional kilometres of roads to the network and rehabilitate existing ones is presumably high. This is because the Federal roads serve as major arteries to economic centres like sea ports, airports, petroleum depots and refineries, etc. The dual carriageways linking the six geo-political zones are owned by the Federal Government, and a major priority of the Federal Ministry of Works is to ensure that the six geopolitical zones are connected by unbroken chain of dual carriageways in good and motorable condition all year round.

To sustain this increasing demand for good and sustainable road network, it has become pertinent to involve the private sector as it is now fashionable all over the world. It is also important to note that roads all over the world are fast becoming big businesses because of the demand to keep them in perfect condition all the time.

It is in this regards that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works has been working round the clock to produce a private sector driven road development programme in Nigeria. We have been engaging the international community on the desirous need for them to invest in Nigerian roads.

Late last year, the Federal Ministry of Works called for Expression of Interests from willing private sector investors in the concession of the following:

i) Second Niger Bridge linking Delta and Anambra States;

ii) Bridge Over River Niger at Nupeko, Niger State; and

iii) Expansion and Upgrading of Apakun-Murtala Mohammed International Airport road in Lagos State.

So far the responses have been very encouraging and the Federal Ministry of Works intends to deliver world-class road concessions on these Federal Roads.

By far the most important policy intervention that will impact positively on the road sector, under my leadership is the proposed reforms in the road sector.

Prior to my assumption of office last year, earlier initiatives to reform the road sector were not accorded the needed attention. In view of the Federal Government's inability to wholly construct, reconstruct, rehabilitate and/or maintain roads in the country due to the global economic recession and its attendant consequences to our environment, I set up a Road Sector Reform Committee in October 2011, comprising international experts, professionally experienced and credible Nigerians. The Committee has worked assiduously to review existing institutional frameworks and policies on road infrastructure development in our country. The Committee's Report, among others, recommended for the establishment of the National Roads Fund and the Federal Roads Authority. These bodies would strengthen our resolve to drive road development in Nigeria through the PPP initiative and other funding models that are certainly global best practices in meeting road sector development funding challenges. The draft bills for the two bodies are currently being studied and reviewed before a formal presentation to the Federal Executive Council.

The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has flagged off its Preventive Maintenance and Road Surveillance Programmes on Abuja-Kaduna, Benin-Onitsha and Onitsha-Owerri highways in the past few months.

Six mobile laboratories have also been acquired out of which two are fully equipped. These are for material testing and quality control to guide against sub-standard works.

The Agency, as at today, has 38 newly acquired FP5 Bergkam Pothole Patches for the effective maintenance of Nigerian roads nationwide. The trucks have been deployed to major highways in the six geo-political zones of the country.

FERMA has also commenced cold asphalt production with a Cold Asphalt Production Base at Kuje which is a new technological innovation.

It has increased the number of road rehabilitation and repairs across the country since the inception of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. With FERMA's emergence as a modern Road Maintenance Outfit, the issue of potholes on our roads will soon be a thing of the past, as the Agency recently flagged off a programme that will eliminate potholes from the Nation's major arterial roads.

The last one year in the road sector has been quite challenging but rewarding as a lot of issues, programmes and initiatives have been set rolling to make Nigeria join the league of the first 20 developed nations as encapsulated in the vision of our dear President Goodluck Jonathan's transformation agenda. Like I have always assured Nigerians, the future is very bright for Nigerian roads as the foundation for world class roads is being laid. And for us at the Federal Ministry of Works, the task of making Nigerian roads better and safer, is a task that must be done.

Thank you.

Arc. Mike Onolememen, mnia, mnim
Honourable Minister of Works

The cure for writer's cramp is writer's block.