The Managing Director, Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Michel Puchercos, has said that Nigeria needs a viable road network to boost economic development.
The roads, he said, will be the second largest in the South of the Sahara and largest in West Africa, making them central to economic development.
This, he said, also raises concerns on the need for a maintenance culture.
He spoke at a road construction summit by Lafarge Africa Plc in Lagos.
The summit had as theme: “The economics of innovative solutions to road construction in Nigeria”.
Puchercos said though Lafarge has solutions to the challenges of road construction in the country, the firm could not do it all alone. Hence the need for all hands to be on deck to bring about an innovative solution to road construction. This, he further said, would mean involving financial institutions, construction industries and road users.
Chairman, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, said that lack of good road network hinders effective transportation, thereby preventing the country from attaining its potential in agriculture mining, and hindering foreign direct investment, which may in turn, lead to loss of jobs, and hamper the growth of small and medium scale enterprises.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that the country’s infrastructure challenge was very enormous.
He blamed the infrastructural deficiencies, especially roads, on past administrations, who he accused of not investing much in infrastructure.
For instance, Fashola disclosed that though at the beginning of this administration in 2015, the total budget for roads was N18 billion; N5 billion for power and N1.8billion for housing, totalling N24.8 billion, less than half of the amount was released to it. However, the following year, which represented the full budget year of this government, his ministry was allocated N422 billion.
According to the minister, one of the innovative ways the government is developing its road infrastructure is tax deduction benefits, whereby companies that build infrastructure for public use are granted tax incentive.
This incentive, he said, is being enjoyed by Dangote Industries, which constructed the 42.8-kilometre Obajana Road in Kogi State. The tax relief initiative is being improved upon with a proposal for it to accommodate people, or group forming a cluster to build infrastructure for public use, the minister added.
The projects that have been signed on for this process include an agreement with Dangote Industries to reconstruct a two-kilometre road in Apapa, using cement. This project, Fashola said, has been extended to 35km to cover Apapa, Liverpool, Marine bridge, Oshodi, Oworonshoki and old Lagos Toll gate.
Also, he said the government has signed an agreement with the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Group to build Bonny Bridge. The cost of the project, which would be completed in five years, would be borne by the firm and the Federal Government.