By Goodluck Ikiebe
The Advance Engineering Company (AEC) Network Limited owned by the Chairman of the defunct Police Equipment Fund (PEF), Mr. Kenny Martins, has won the concession to construct the proposed 470km concrete-built Abuja-Lagos Greenfield superhighway on a build, operate, and transfer (BOT) arrangement.
The Minister of Works, Mr David Umahi, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Lagos on Saturday.
He said the highway will be completed in four years and will last for 100 years.
Umahi said the road will be built by a private sector consortium at no cost to the government, adding that AEC will operate the facility for a yet-to-be-determined period on a BOT deal.
The minister further said the facility would be tolled at different points to enable the investors to recover their investment.
He praised AEC, saying he was satisfied with their concept and “what they have put in place.”
“So, the next thing is to bring the business proposal so we can negotiate on what the cost of the project is going to be. Then they go to the Ministry of Finance and negotiate on the issue of their money,” Umahi said.
Mr Umahi assured Nigerians that the four-and-a-half-hour travel time for vehicles plying the route at 100 kilometers 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 a half hours.’ That is the renewed hope of Mr. President,” he noted.
The Minister stated that President Bola Tinubu had approved that the project should be fast-tracked and that the contractor should be on site in three months.
“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-millimeter-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. Some bridges will be built. Many tolling points are going to be there.
“We are not putting any kobo but we will assist them in every direction,” he explained.
Umahi further said that from Lagos, the road would pass through eight states in the South-west and North-central before it gets to Abuja.
The states are Kogi, Ekiti, Oyo, FCT, Lagos, Ogun, Niger and Kwara.
“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 percent to change the remaining to concrete,” the Minister added.
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.
Emphasizing 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 $10 million.
In his remarks, Mr Martins said the project “is the first of its kind in Africa.”
He also said the road will be ICT-compliant with a fiber optic connection, solar-powered street lights, and security points on the entire stretch of the road.
In Lagos, he said the route would begin from the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge in Epe to Abuja.