By Stephen Ubanna
Bola Ahmend Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and now President and Commander-In –Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, C-In-C, has a big task at hand: How. to complete the construction of the Lagos-Badagry Expresway way started by the former President Goodluck Jonathan ‘s Administration.
This is to reduce the journey time and bitter travel experience of motorists,Travellers,workers and businessmen shuttling between Lagos and Seme-Krake Joint border , Benin Republic and other West African countries to transact their business .
Former President Muha mmadu Buhari and Babatude Fashola, a one-time governor f Lagos’s state and immediate past minister of Works and Housing had at several forums given assurance of completing the Lagos-Badagry Expressway which has become a nightmare. The former minister has been taken by his words by Nigerians to complete the multi-billion road project because of his excellent performance as a governor in the execution and completion of road projects started by his Administration in the state when he said that the government has secured N16 billion Tax Credit Fund, TCF, for the construction of the road.
The Until his exit from office on May 29, 2023, the former minister had urged the Asian country of China Geo-Engineering Corporation, CGC, Nigeria Limited, handling the Construction and rehabilitation of the 1,048 Kilometre s Lagos-Badagry Expressway to expedite action on the critical project by employing more staff and get more equipment to the site.
He did not stop there. He had said also that the former Buhari’Administration had borrowed billions of naira to finance road projects across the country including the Lagos –Badagry road, noting that ‘’borrowing is an essential component of public finance to respond to the increasing quest for provision of vital infrastructural facilities to the citizenry’’
. The minister who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the main problem stalling the completion of the Lagos-Badagry road project was always funding and budget but staed that the problem has been addressed with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptised Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Nigeria Limited, NNPCL, with the signing into Law of the Nigeria Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed by the National Assembly by the former President in August 2021, Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, RITCS.
The former Lagos state governor had asserted that the Lagos Badagry Expressway project is progressing substially. Describing the road project as a strategic investment to the country and Nigeria’s contribution to facilitate trade in the West and Central African sub-regions an d also for the local Community.
Many had expected that the multi-billion Lagos-Badagry Expressway road project would have been completed before the eight-year-old Buhari’s Administration elapsed on May 29, 2023 before the former Lagos state governor took over from him on May 29, 2023.
Signs that the road Project would become another failed project of the Buhari’s Administration like the N50 billion Lagos- Ota road, emerged when the former minister disclosed towards the tail end of the previous Administration that’’ the completion of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway will depend on the availability of funds’’.
This may have informed why he had said that in completing the project, it is either ‘’to increase taxation or better still, through private investment’’. He had said that the erstwhile Buhari’s Administration was doing something in that direction of increasing taxes through the Tax Credit Scheme through the Highway Development Management Initiative, which was said to have earmarked 12 highways across the country to be conccessioned. There is no gain saying the fact the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is one of the liabilities that was said to have been left behind by the former Administration for the Tinubu’s Administration to handle.
In spite of all the promises that has been made by the former minister of Works and Housing for the completion of the 1,048 Km, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Agbara-Badagry, axis of the road, remains in a sorry state. On Friday, June 24, 2023, The Value News online Magazine had left for the ancient town of Badagry, enroute to Seme-Karake joint Border but spent four to five hours on the road, for a journey of less than 30 minutes.
The question of the lips of most people was that with the sorry state of the road, which is a major access route to the neighbouring West African countries of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and Coted’Ivoire, how can Nigeria effectively participate in African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCTA, arrangement that is about to take off.
Notwithstanding the poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, facilitation along the major trade route in the West African sub-region appears to have been adversely affected by the numerous security agencies checkpoint on the road. At the last count, there are over 21 check points mounted by the police and other security agencies along the road. The police Authorities and Border Patrol Police, on several occasions were said to have promised to reduce their checkpoints on the road but that was how far they could go.
The Magazine took time out to visit Cotonou, Capital of Benin Republic and found that the situation on the highway leading to the city was different. There were only three check points mounted between Seme-Krake joint Border and Cotonu. Funy enough,there were no security agencies personnel on the road to stop motoristsfor routine check. The motorists appear to be disciplined as they stop at each checkpoint without being asked to stop.
The motorists voluntarily stop at the checkpoint to identify themselves. The motor cyclists wears helmet to cover their head and are restricted to their side own road. The Magazine did not see any foot bridge around the city of Cotonou, as the people do have any need to cross the road or take any shortcut to get to their destination or play into the hand of the Gendarmes.
It might also interest you to know that there was nothing like street trading in Cotonou, the Benin Republic Capital city. From the Seme-Krake joint border to city, there was nothing like street trading. Call it a poor country but the people are contented with what they have.
Even at the Symbole amour et de notire engagement por ley pays,nos amazons ont su, par leur bravoure, autant queles,homes,defender la patrie. Telles nos amazons,la feme beninoise est notre fierte, art work , site which was developed in 2022, by the Administration of President Patrice Talon, in Cotonou, it appears to have become a tourist attraction centre in the country, as foreigners, troop to the country on a daily basis to see the great amazon. The Magazine visited the site that is well maintained.
Security opratives and intelligence personnel were around the vicinity but they never harassed any visitor from coming close to the Amozon Art work, which is larger than size to take pictures with their phones. There were also Professional photographers on ground, who are making good business. Note that Amazon great art ark work is positioned at strategic location at the country’s Capital city, dotted with several hotels built around the area to accommodate tourists.
While on the drive to the tourist Amazons site, the Magazine found out that the Autonomous Port of Benin, Cotonou, was well fenced and the walls painted with different designs which is very inviting. Even at the exit gates of the port, there were no port security operatives as trucks laden with Containers exit without being stopped. This is because importers with their agents including transit cargo owners know what to do at the port by making the correct declarations and appropriate duty and surcharge payments.
Maritime analysts believes that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, could replicate same at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island Port, Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal , Phases I and II and the south eastern ports of Onne, PortHarcourt, Calabar and Warri. This is because the country have the resources to do so. What the Authority requires is the political will to do so.