Minister of Works, David Umahi, said the proposed 470 kilometres Abuja-LagosAbuja-Lagos Greenfield superhighway will be completed in four years and last 100 years.
Umahi disclosed this on Saturday in Lagos that the road will be built by a private sector consortium at no cost to the government.
The consortium will operate the facility for a yet-to-be-determined period on a build, operate and transfer deal, he said, adding that it will be tolled at different points to enable the investors to recoup their investment.
He assured that the four-and-a-half-hour travel time for vehicles plying the route at 100 kilometres per hour was achievable.
“When I first introduced this to the public, many doubting Thomases were saying ‘it is impossible, Lagos-Abuja that is done in 14 hours cannot be done in four and half hours’, that is the renewed hope of Mr President,” he said.
The Minister explained that President Bola Tinubu approved that the project be speeded up, adding that the contractor should be on site in three months.
Umahi said: “The president has approved that I fast-track this project. This project is going to be two lanes, but each lane is going to be a two-carriage way and it is going to be 14 metres.
“The only carriageway that is equivalent to this is the Third Mainland Bridge where each carriageway is 14 metres. It is going to be built on 275-millimetre thick concrete.
“The live-shelf design of this project is going to be 100 years. It is going to be completed within four years and this is doable. There are a number of bridges that will be built. There are a number of tolling points that are going to be there.
“We are not putting any kobo but we will assist them in every direction.”
He explained that from Lagos, the road will pass through eight states in the Southwest and Northcentral before it gets to Abuja.
The states are Kogi, Ekiti, Oyo, FCT, Lagos, Ogun, Niger and Kwara.
He praised the private consortium behind the deal, Advance Engineering Company, saying he was “very satisfied with their concept and what they have put in place.
“The good thing is that we are building this road on concrete so we can predict the cost. In asphalt, you cannot predict the cost. The cost of asphalt roads changes every month.
“Concrete roads are more durable and cheaper than asphalt and I have directed all ongoing projects that have not advanced up to 80 per cent to change the remaining to concrete.”
The minister added that plans were underway to make the road a business and industrial corridor with hotels, factories, and housing estates, among others, on the route.
Emphasising the seriousness of the project, Umahi said the contract would be watertight such that if the consortium backed out unreasonably, it may have to pay a fine of $10million.
Chairman of the consortium, Kenny Martins, described the project as “the first of its kind in Africa”, saying it would be ICT-compliant with a fibre optic connection, solar-powered street lights and security points on the entire stretch of the road.
Martins said in Lagos, the route would begin from the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge in Epe to Abuja.
Umahi, also yesterday opened discussions with Hitech Construction Company Ltd. on the proposed Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.
The minister, during a meeting with engineers from the Federal Ministry of Works and the contractor’s team in Lagos said the project would boost interconnectivity to link the entire nation.
He said the project was huge, ambitious and showed the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to the restoration and rapid development of the Nigerian state.
He said the president was in a hurry to fix Nigeria and begin the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project.
The minister said the meeting with the contractor was the first and another meeting to be held in a fortnight would be to close deals for commencement of construction.
He said the project was a Public Private Partnership to be tolled upon completion, adding that the contractor had already sourced the money to execute the project.
Umahi explained that the project would be constructed in phases and the completed portions would be put to use and tolled.
He said the proposed highway would link Lagos-Badagry Expressway super highway, connect the proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge, Lekki Deep Sea Port Road, link Ogoja-Ikom to connect five points in Northern Nigeria.
He said the road had an initial design length of about 650 to 700kms and rail lines components which would run in the middle of the main carriageways.
He said the project would promote tourism, have industrial clusters including hotels, factories, housing estates and several other facilities.
“It is quite innovative and the giant of Africa is beginning to show her prowess and this is being revitalised by the captain of the ship, his excellency President Bola Tinubu.
“So, this is beautiful. Another good news is that this is going to be built on concrete road of 11 inches thick with 20 millimeter reinforcement,” he said.
He said concrete construction would give opportunities for local cement manufacturers, boost steel production from Ajaokuta, as well as exploration of Nigeria’s huge bitumen.
Umahi, who is a civil engineer, said the project would have challenges because it would pass through mangroves, mashy areas, flood plains and all kinds of land and soil types.
“And so, there will be a combination of all kinds of construction methods, the deck on pile would be there, the sand filling will be there, the retaining walls will be there.”
Consultant to Hitech, Nicholas Rizk, said the construction methods chosen were suitable for countries with large landmass like Nigeria.
Rizk said the project corridor transverse various topographical areas, hence the need to capture all economic and social peculiarities of people along the project alignment.