Why Dangote Is Committed To The Completion of The Multi-million Naira Apapa Road Project

By Stephen Ubanna

More facts have emerged why Aliko Dangote,a billionaire  business mogul, and President Dangote Group of Companies,   is committed to the reconstruction of the Oshodi –Apapa expressway which had remained a major problem to past and present administrations over the years. This is because of the adverse  effect of the  dilapidated road on the Apapa port based manufacturing  Companies   Note that two of the companies belonging  to the Dangote Group , a flour Mill and Sugar, plant are located Apapa port and the manufactured goods needed to be transferred to the Distributor’s warehouses in Lagos and other parts of the country.

Given the adverse effect of the Apapa bad road on  the  two Companies  inside the ports between 2017 and 2018,  Dangote that  the had said that the two Companies alone, lost  over N25 billion  as their production   were not able to get out of the port because of the deep portholes on the road  .

Investigations by The Value News  shows  that this 2019 alone, the Companies warehouse were  filled with thousands of cartons of  unsold manufactured goods   that the business mogul believe that waiting for the government  to fix the Oshodi-Apapa  road   could drag on   for years and nothing would be  done . He was forced to reach  out to  President Muhammadu Buhari in order   to be given the  go ahead to reconstruct the Apapa road with the support of other multi-national Companies based at the port.

The katsina state born Nigerian President may have seen it as a big relief to the government   as it would free out more  funds that would be used  for provision of other basic infrastructural facilities   across the country  that he jumped at the deal. However, there was a snag. He may have realised that under the current Law of  the  country, it would be very  difficult for a private company to be allowed to take over the job which is an exclusive responsibility of the government.

Perhaps, to encourage the Dangote Group, a wholly indigenous Company,   Unilever plc and Lafarge African Construction Company, both multinational Companies , which have the resources  to embark on reconstruction of public roads in the in the port environment and other areas where their businesses  are located to facilitate the transfer of their goods to their warehouses and the market, he was said to have issued an Executive Order  last July to that effect.  

Babatude Fashola: Minister of Works and Housing

The Executive Order 07, 2019, which was said to have been signed into law covers road infrastructure  and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme. The Executive Order  may  have given Dangote Group of Companies  a better bargaining power to go ahead with the plan  to rehabilitate the dilapidated  road. It was , therefore, not very surprising that when the government ,  finally agreed to contract out the  about N73 billion road project from Apapa to the Toll gate end of the Lagos-Ibadam Expressway,  Dangote which had  earlier signified  interest to fix the Apapa road became a ready choice.

Buhari was said to to be very happy to allow the  Dangote group execute the  multi-billion naira project because it has the wherewithal and not going to rely on the government to release  money to it before mobilising on site.

Many believe that given the gains of the deal  which includes a 10- year  Tax Holiday and waivers on imported goods, to the Dangote group, Dangote  quickly mobilised the Construction Company  workers on site. They are said to have  been working on the road  day and night  to ensure that the project was delivered to the government   with the highest quality in 2020, in order to restore  Apapa  to its normal busy business life.

Note that over 70 percent of the imported cargoes into the country  pass through Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports alone while the  remaining 30 percent are shared  between Onne  port, Concessioned to West African Container Terminal, WACT,  Port Harcourt Area 1, Calabar and Warri ports.

Dangote was said to have assured  Babatude Fashola, a former governor of state and minister of Works and Housing that the reconstruction of the Oshodi- Apapa road would be completed  within the  two years approved  by the government.   He is optimistic that the completion of the road project would go a long way to solve the Apapa gridlock problem and regular falling of truck laden Containers on the deep portholes on the road.

The Kano state born business mogul was said to have told those that cares to listen including the ministry officials that theOshodi-Apapa  express Way , will be one of the best roads in the country  when completed at the end of 2020. According to him, the country will have a’’ road that will last for over 40 years’’   and which can compete with any road constructed by any established Construction firm  in Germany, China or the United States, US and any other part of the world.

 Indeed,Port users have  contended that if the    Dangote Group  could keep to their promise of  fixing the Oshodi-Apapa road by 2020, it will clear the persistent  gridlock  on the road. They noted that  the Presidential Task Team saddled with the responsibility of clearing the gridlock caused by Tankers and truck laden Containers  Headed by Kayode Opeyemi, a former Commissioner of Transportation, Lagos state, would have little or no job to do and thus, should be  disbanded by the  Presidency to give the truck and Tanker owners a breather.

This is bad news for  Opeiyemi and his Team , who had been in the eye of the storm  over the last one year  over allegations of extortion by Amalgamation of  Maritime Truck Owners , AMATO and other Associations at the port.

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