By Maduka Nweke, [email protected]

Just as it was done in the aviation sector through the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project, the federal government has equally hinted at plans to connect the six geopolitical zones of the country by road.

Minister of Works Mr. David Umahi, who revealed the plan said it feeds into the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who desires to see a total road coverage connecting all the zones in Nigeria to guarantee a more secure, safer and sustainable transportation ecosystem.

The development has already elicited wild jubilation as Nigerians remain expectant to see the promise morph into fruition.

Most of those who spoke to Daily Sun commended the Minister of Works for the initiative, saying it would open and connect all the zones for food, commerce and other socio-economic activities.

They agreed that such an audacious project will bring greater integration and foster peace in a nation that is dangerously along ethnic lines.

According to Mr. Akaluka Chidindu, an educationist who retired as a Professor from a Ghanaian University,” the effort of the Minister of Works is highly commendable. If other Ministers can inject this kind of spirit in their various activities and projects without looking at the zones for preference, the country will be opened to massive development.

“I think there are a lot of openings for development in all the spheres of our life. It only needs the spirits like that of David Umahi of the Ministry of Works. Some people will lobby and scramble to get appointed. “When they are appointed, they will only concentrate in their areas, that is if they even consider them. Others will launder the funds meant for development abroad with nothing to show yet the government will not ask questions, “he observed.

Another respondent, Mr. Kabir Obalende, a property developer in Lekki part of Lagos stated that with roads linking every part of the country, businesses of all kinds including sale of properties and foodstuffs will be evenly circulated for the country, “he noted.

Another respondent, Mr. Paul Okonedo, a construction expert stated that Nigeria has a lot of problems bothering the populace. He said that a lot of big time road projects started a long time ago have not been completed.

According to him, all these projects are indirect ways of siphoning money.

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“There are a lot of existing roads that are currently not passable, meanwhile the penchant is for new ones that will engulf large chunks of money. Nigerians are conscienceless otherwise many families are not eating now. “Things are so hard that prices of materials are not following any known sequence to rise.

“Government should have a human face. Government should think about public friendly projects. Projects that can bring food on the table of families should be in the forefront. Why should they not repair the various interstate roads that have dilapidated all over the country?

“Some states have been cut off from the rest of the country and the government is not taking note of them. They are interested in projects that will increase money in their pockets at the expense of the Nigerian populace. What is happening is that the rich are becoming richer while the poor are not only becoming poorer but more impoverished,” he submitted.

Umahi recently inspected the km47 axis of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway project at  Eleko, Lagos State. At the moment, the contractor is carrying out demolition around the km3-4 of the highway.

Speaking during the visit, the Minister, accompanied by the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos State, Mrs. O. Kesha and other technical team members of the Ministry revealed that he had received a directive by the President to commence the immediate design of the Sokoto- Badagry highway, which is a spur to the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

“The Sokoto-Badagry highway is 1,000 kilometers. We’ve started the design, and I am very sure that as soon as the FEC approves it, we will be starting at the Sokoto side, which is going to be the zero point” he explained.

In the course of the inspection, the Minister noted the need to realign the coastal highway around the axis of the Lekki Deep Sea Port at the point of km47 by constructing a flyover bridge across the Dangote/ Hitech concrete pavement so as to align with the economic values of the coastal highway.

He commended  Hitech Construction Nigeria Limited for the quality and speed of the job and hoped that with their capacity, track records and the manifest political will of the President, the 700 km project would be completed within the  8 years of the Renewed Hope administration of President Tinubu, noting  that the coastal highway project will

connect  the entire country  through  the spurs going  to the North by both North East and  North West as well as  North Central.

“We are very, very excited with the quality of work they are doing, with the speed of work. It gives us the confidence that this coastal road will be constructed within the two times tenure of Mr. President.” He further stated, “We also have another spur that is going to go from Enugu-Abakaliki-Ogoja going to Cameroon. And so we have that spur. It’s about 361 kilometers going through Otukpo to Benue, Nasarawa, and ends up at Apo in Abuja. We are also going to be presenting it to the President. When this is done, then the coastal road, like we promised, is going to circle the entire country.”

On the demolition exercise along the Lagos-Calabar coastal Highway section 1, phase 1 as it affects the Landmark investment, the Minister made it clear that the Landmark properties were intact and that the owner of the investment has no title to the 250 meters shoreline which is the right of way belonging to the Federal Government. He said, “We are looking at the feelings of the people, and we’re looking at economic values by making sure that, as much as possible, we follow the coast and also follow the right of way that is legally within the right of way of the Federal Government. This is not to say that for the interest of the nation and in line with our laws that lands cannot be acquired in the overall interest of the public”, he said.