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Lagos-Calabar 700-kilometer coastal road project, Umahi speaks

…To gulp N4bn per kilometre

 

…Landmark property will be intact, no job will be lost

 

 

The 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway is to be completed at the cost of N2.8trn gulping N4bn per kilometre and not N8bn per km, as reportedly claimed by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

 

Umahi stated this in an interview on Arise Television on Thursday.

The minister also dismissed claims that the project didn’t follow the due procurement process, stating that the contract was awarded on a counter-funding basis and not on a Public-Private Partnership as widely claimed.

Recall that Atiku, last week, questioned President Bola Tinubu administration’s decision to allegedly award the contract to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech without competitive bidding, daring the president to disclose the full cost of the Lagos-Calabar highway project.

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP candidate also wondered why the Tinubu administration released N1.06tn for the pilot phase, or six per cent of the project, which begins at Eko Atlantic and is expected to terminate at the Lekki Deep Sea Port.

Reacting to Atiku, Umahi explained that despite the soaring costs of materials in the construction industry due to commodity price inflation and supply chain disruptions, the ministry is committed to prudence, promising to reveal the true cost.

The minister confirmed that the project would be completed within eight years, with the use of concrete pavement on the four-lane carriageway.

He also explained that although N1.06tn was appropriated, the full amount had not been disbursed.

Umahi said, “People are just building castles without knowledge and they don’t know figures, I will run the figures for you. We are going to compare the cross-section of the one the former vice president mentioned that was renegotiated for $11.1bn for 700 km.

“So you have to now ask what was there to be constructed. And what was there to be constructed is the only available design from NDDC.

“They had designed the entire 700 km but we are not following exactly that pattern or right of way. We have a different modification. The original design had two carriageways on each side of the road with four lanes.

“And in the middle, they did not provide for the train track. It’s just going to be a water-collecting basin. But the coastal road we are constructing has a total of 10 lanes, you know, not only that it has a total of 10 lanes, it also have what we called shoulders.

“And the total shoulders can be put at about 23 metres. So when you put the total concrete pavement we are doing, it’s about 59 metres. When you put the total flexible pavement that he quoted it’s about 23 metres.

“And so when you run the figures, you now find out that under his calculation, it is giving you about over N19bn per kilometre. Now if you divide it by the 23 kilometres that they are doing, it is about 2.225 times a standard superhighway carriageway, which is N11.55bn.

“Whereas what we are doing, if you divide it, you get N5.167bn, So when you now divide using our 1.067, you get about N4bn/km. If you go back to what he has quoted, you will get over N8bn.

“So using concrete, which should be more expensive because of the kind of terrain we have, and using flexible pavement, which shouldn’t stand the coastal route, you will find out that our cost is N4bn instead of the N8bn claimed by the former vice president.”

On the mode of the construction process, Umahi said government never envisaged the project under a Private Public Partnership arrangement but under an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Finance programme as currently used on the Abuja- Markurdi road project.

He said, “This administration never envisaged the project under Private Public Partnership. It has always been under engineering, procurement, construction and finance. And so under this kind of arrangement, as you have on the Abuja to Makurdi road project, the federal government is required to pay a certain amount for counterpart funding.

“And so in this particular project of Abuja to Makurdi, which is being handled by China Harbour, the government is paying 50 per cent counterpart funding. Then you have also from Makurdi to 9th Mile in Enugu state, where we are also paying 50 per cent counterpart funding. So, there’s a marked difference between PPP and EPC plus F. And in this particular project, there will be a negotiated counterpart funding of between 15 and 30 per cent.

“When I was a governor, I had the African Development Bank fund a project through counterpart funding and I used some of the money to build some sections of the road. So part of what we are constructing under sections one, two and three currently funded by the federal government will fall under the percentage counterpartfunding. When we finalise the negotiation, it will be between 15 per cent and 30 per cent.”

On the fear that the Landmark property will be affected, Umahi assured that the property will not be demolished, and no jobs will be lost.

He said, “I was at Landmark yesterday to see what was going on. Despite claims that 12,000 jobs will be lost, I told Landmark that no jobs will be lost by what we’re doing.

“What could be lost is the shoreline and the people that go to play at the shoreline. His facilities will be intact because we reduced the corridor by 50 metres.

“I saw that there’s no permanent structure other than a few shanties along the shoreline that are affected. I told him that no job would be lost, and he agreed with me,” he said.

The minister further stated, “Who owns the land is not supposed to be my problem, but the Federal Government (FG), by the Waterways Act and the recent Supreme Court judgement, gave the right of ownership of the shoreline to FG. 250 metres from the point of the shoreline, which means it belongs to FG.

“However, we’re interested here because it’s an investment, and we’re happy with it. We are taking 50 metres of that shoreline, and it’s irrevocable. I also told him if he’s interested in the waterways, he should create one on top.”

Recall that the Lagos State Government had issued a notice of demolition of the $200million Landmark Beach Resort, saying the property obstructs the planned route of the 700-kilometer coastal road project.

The proprietor of Landamark Beach Resort, Paul Onwuanibe,  in an interview with CNN, said he was given a notice to vacate his multimillion-dollar beach resort within seven days for its impending demolition.

According to him, the Landmark property accommodates more than 80 businesses and sustains over 4,000 jobs directly.

He added that the company claims it contributes more than N2 billion in taxes each year.

The beach resort, regarded as one of the top tier tourism spots in Nigeria, received about a million local and foreign visitors last year.

Onwuanibe explained he purchased the land in 2007, well before the coastal highway plans were formulated, and was left with mixed feelings after the demolition notice arrived, also prompting him to claim compensation.

Recall that in March, the Federal Government started constructing the 700-kilometer Lagos – Calabar Coastal Highway, designed to extend through 9 states with two spurs leading to the Northern States.

Umahi, disclosed this during the official handover of the first phase, which includes a 47.47-kilometer dual carriageway, to Hitech Construction Company Ltd.

Umahi said the road would be built using concrete pavement.

He added that since the Federal Government awarded the contract, Hitech Construction Company Limited has made significant progress, completing 1.3 kilometres of the required filling.

 

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