By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
Feasibility and Engineering studies have shown that advanced stage for the implementation of the strategic Abidjan- Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project as Ministers of Road Infrastructure and Transport of the 5- Corridor Member States, Technical experts and Financial Partners met in Abidjan to review progress report.
Speaking at the opening session of the 11th Ministerial Steering Committee meeting, Chairman of Committee and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Federal Republic of Nigeria , Babatunde Raji Fashola, represented by the Minister of State, Surv. Suleiman Hassan Zarma, stated that significant progress on the project has been made since it was initiated. “I must say that progress is not an easy feat considering the fact that each task achieved has to be scrutinized, harmonized and agreed upon by the five Corridor Member States”, being Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Ghana.
The Minister highlighted some major achievements recorded to include: signing and ratification of the project treaty by the five Heads of State and Governments with other related legal documents; securing of funds to carry out feasibility studies for the project from development partners namely: African Development Bank, (AfDB), European Union (EU)and GIZ of Germany. Also, on record is; progress made on the procurement process for the feasibility and detailed design for the project, with the financial evaluation forwarded to AfDB for a “ No Objection” for engagement of the consultants; Interviews and negotiations for key positions in the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) have been completed and Member States have nominated their representatives. According to the Minister, the needed manpower for the project take-off has been assembled and awaits the Committee’s mandate to commence work.
A statement signed by Eno Olotu (Mrs)Assistant Director For : Director, Information said that Zarma called on the project Committee not to rest on its oars having passed the early fundamental phase of the project. In his words, “having progressed past the early fundamental phase of the project with Member States agreeing on legal and institutional arrangements for the project, the stage is now set for the speedy execution of the remaining phases of the Multi- National Highway”. The Minister advised that as more components are expected to be addressed, it will require utmost attention and dedication by Members to avoid any delay.
The statement also revealed that issues discussed at the experts meeting include: mobilization of the PIU to oversee the Abidjan- Lagos Highway studies, Finalization of Issues pertaining to project accounts and fund disbursement, consideration of other funding options for the project and the review of progress made on hosting of the headquarters of the Abidjan- Lagos Corridor Management Authority ( ALCOMA).
ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Pathe Gueye expressed excitement on the project, noting that it will bridge the shortfall and inefficiency of infrastructure in the sub-region which he said has impeded on its development. He said the Corridor will open up the region for socio- economic development and boost economic exchange activities. He pledged the Commission‘s readiness to support the project and ensure its full implementation.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr Jean Kabanguka of AfDB, said the bank has noted the progress made so far on the project and expressed commitment of the Bank with other development partners to facilitate the realization of the Super Highway that will boost economic growth and generate jobs.
Mr Michel Laloge of the EU disclosed that the organization was very keen in supporting the Corridor Highway project, stating that it is looking forward to seeing about 24m people enjoy good roads, 30m enjoy electricity and 5m job generated in the coming years of the project implementation. He assured of continued assistance of the EU to stimulate job generation and sustainable development.
Ministers of Infrastructure and Transport of the Highway Corridor States of Côte d’ Ivoire, Dr Amede Kouakou; Hon Kwasi Amoako-Attah of Ghana; Tindano Komlan of Togo and Alassane Seidu of Benin all pledged total commitment to any decision to be taken to facilitate the quick implementation of the project and looking forward to its attendant derivable benefits for the region.
The Abidjan- Lagos Corridor Highway Project is a 1, 008km , 6- lane dual carriageway Highway that will traverse five countries of ECOWAS, including Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana,Togo and Benin bringing to bear economic activities and development and promote regional integration