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Think tank sees beyond Atiku on Nigeria’s Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway

Nigeria’s ambitious 700 kilometres coastal highway project, the first of its kind in the nation, awarded to a specialist construction company HiTECH,

is expected to stimulate tourism and foster industrial clusters.

The envisaged industries that would spring up in the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, include as hotels, factories, housing estates, and other amenities, including rail lines running in the middle of the main 10 lanes carriageways.

The Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI), a formidable Nigerian Think Tank, said on Wednesday in a policy statement issued in Abuja that opposition should abhor an unhealthy, diversionary, and deliberate manoeuvre to discredit the whole essence of the project.

The Chairman of IMPI, Mr Niyi Akinsiju, said: “Without a doubt, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, as it is also called, is a grand project.’’

“ It is designed to connect nine states and regions at both the national and international levels, serving as a vital link between South West, South East, South-South, and other regions of the country.

“It will also integrate with existing federal roads, promoting economic and social development across the country in addition to the integration at the national level for Southwest, Southeast, and South-South, including the Niger Delta region. ‘’

Mr Akinsiju said the highway, which construction had commenced from Lagos axis would also connect with Federal Roads going from Badagry in Lagos to Sokoto.

“From Warri to Kaduna, from Port Harcourt to Kano/Maiduguri, and from Calabar to Maiduguri. Starting at Victoria Island near Eko Atlantic City, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway will pass through the Lekki Coastal Road, Lekki Free Trade Zone, and the Dangote Refinery, connecting Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Edo, and reaching Calabar.’’

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road is a 700km highway that would be constructed in phases, with the completed sections being opened for use and toll collection.

“The project, described as ambitious, will connect the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Fourth Mainland Bridge, Lekki Deep Sea Port Road, and various points in Northern Nigeria through the Ogoja-Ikom axis.

Mr Akinsiju, said the study of IMPI of the situation showed that all the claims and controversy sparked by Nigeria’s former Vice President Atiku Abubakar were off the mark and he targeted at discrediting the project.

IMPI noted that at the time Mr Abubakar created a controversy over the Lagos-Calabar highway, a criminal court in Panama had opened the trial of the first batch of 27 individuals accused of money laundering related to the global “Panama Papers” revelations.

It added that international media reports indicate that investigations are ongoing on the next batch of individuals listed in the Panama Papers which may include the two-time presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who is number 68 on the list of exposed former top government officials using shell companies.

Aside from successfully handling the Bar Beach Shoreline protection, Hitech also has a history of constructing coastal highways with reinforced concrete outside of Nigeria.

IMPI said after making discreet and open enquiries on the company’s credentials and contract portfolios, it concluded that it may pass as the only Nigerian company able to construct the coastal road.

The policy group also insisted that a cost analysis of road projects similar to the Lagos-Calabar highway in some parts of the world showed that the costing of the project was appropriate.

According to the Nigeria works minister, David Umahi, the highway is to be built with 11 inch thick concrete and 20-millimetre reinforcement.

“The innovative use of concrete and steel reinforcement will improve local cement manufacturing and boost steel production from Ajaokuta’’ and also take advantage of abundant bitumen resources.

It is acknowledged that a combination of construction methods, including pile-supported decks, sand filling, and retaining walls, will be employed to overcome the challenges of such project since it will cut through mangroves, mashy land, flood plains, and various soil types.

Indeed, we agree with analysts and pundits who had submitted that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is a ground-breaking project and ranked as the first of its kind in Africa.

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