Public-Private Partnership as panacea to road development
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation is one of the cardinal goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations (UN) has also underlined the importance of delivering quality infrastructure by stakeholders for enduring development in that regard.
Analysts note that the backbone for the development of any nation includes its physical infrastructure, comprising roads and bridges, power generation plants, power transmission and distribution networks and water, among others.
They note that providing infrastructure projects requires huge capital and tend to exert a strain on financing such projects by governments.
According to them, it will not be out of place for governments with limited resources to lookout for alternative financial, managerial and technical resources to deliver essential public infrastructure via partnership.
The Federal Government has, therefore, proposed a public-partnership partnership to assist it in tackling the odds against the delivery of quality infrastructure.
The Senate Committee on Works Chairman Adamu Aliero says the committee, as part of its statutory responsibility to citizens, recently embarked on oversight to ascertain the delay in completion of some of the roads that were awarded to contractors by the Federal Government.
Some of the roads listed for inspection by the committee include the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Sagamu-Ikorodu road and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, among others.
For the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, the contract was awarded on Dec. 20, 2017 to Julius Berger Plc. at a contract sum of N155.48 billion and has three sections — Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road.
Aliero who led the committee members on inspection of the road said that work began on Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road on May 21, 2018 and it is to be completed on May 21, 2021.
“We are not happy with the slow pace of work. The work is done at snail speed, Nigerians are worried as the road cut across three geopolitical zones of North-Central, North-West and North -East.
“It is a very important road in terms of the economic gains of the zones; the delay is unacceptable; there is no enough mobilisation on the part of the contractor,’’ he observed.
He called for public-private partnership to assist government in provision of roads as critical infrastructure.
“Going by what is happening now in the budget, there is no way the Federal Government can fund well more than 522 roads,’’ he said.
Aliero said that the Senate would amend laws to make Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives attractive to boost investments in roads and other infrastructure to bridge infrastructure deficit.
The senator also called on private investors to key into the tax credit scheme to ensure quality road delivery to improve the economy.
While inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Aliero said that the Federal Government was concerned about attracting investments to the country.
Aliero said that PPP was an alternative means of funding road infrastructure which business owners should adopt for the good of the nation.
“Already PPP is on the top agenda of the 9th Senate; and indeed the entire National Assembly, we will encourage the private sector to go into construction of infrastructure, not only roads but also railways and power,’’ he said.
He commended the tax credit scheme adopted by the Dangote Group for the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki Expressway project and advised other businessmen to key into it.
“If this is done, it will facilitate the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the road sector in the country instead of relying on the annual budgeting of rehabilitating or constructing.
“The road will be built by the private sector and they can recover their money through payment of taxes with an arrangement with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)’’, he said.
He commended the quality of reconstruction and rehabilitation work and the technology being used on the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki Expressway to make it durable.
He also expressed satisfaction at the adequate mobilisation of equipment and personnel on various sections to deliver the project on schedule.
“This is the way to go because this is a road linking two major sea ports in the country; Tincan Island and Apapa port and this is where haulage of heavy goods is being ferried to different parts of the country apart from Lagos.
“Most of the imports from the north pass here before they eventually go to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“It is a major road which should be constructed very well and we are very pleased with what we have seen.
The progress of work is good and we have no doubt that if the contractor maintains the pace, the project will be completed and delivered on time,’’ Aliero said.
Similarly, Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, noted that the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road was a very important road that was at the heart of Nigeria and it had deteriorated to the point that something had to be done.
el-Rufai, however, noted that with an annual budget of N169 billion for federal highways, it was clear that alternative sources of funding must be found.
The fourth mainland bridge is supposed to be like a ring road, it is supposed to be a 37- kilometre bridge and super highway.
“We have got expression of interest by both local and international companies. They are now at various levels of procurement,’’ he said.
Also, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun said that public-private partnership was fundamental to the economic growth of the country.
“The Lagos State governor and I observe that these roads are common to both of us and affecting the economy of both states and the quality of life of our people.
“What we should do is how to encourage a public-private sector partner to come and partner and let us tell the Federal Government to transfer some of the south- west roads.
“We requested that these roads, Sagamu-Ikorodu and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta be transferred to us because they are commercial roads and we will privatise them and we will not revert to the Federal Government for any refund,’’ he said.
However, stakeholders are optimistic that before the end of 2030 when the SDGs are supposed to be achieved, critical infrastructure such as road development would also be realised.
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria
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