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Policy think tank faults Atiku, says cost of Lagos-Calabar highway ‘appropriate’

A think tank body of policy analysts on the platform of the Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI) has justified the N2.8trn to be expended…

A think tank body of policy analysts on the platform of the Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI) has justified the N2.8trn to be expended on the construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

The group maintained that the cost of construction of the highway “is appropriate”.

It also faulted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s criticism of the project, insisting that there is enough proof to support the cost of the mega project.

IMPI in a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, in Abuja Wednesday, said its study of the situation showed that all the claims by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election were off the mark and targeted at discrediting the project.

The think tank group acknowledged the track record of the project handling firm in constructing coastal highways with reinforced concrete in many countries, citing the successful handling of the Bar Beach Shoreline protection.

On Atiku’s criticism of the cost of the project, the policy group insisted that a cost analysis of road projects similar to the Lagos-Calabar highway in some parts of the world showed that the cost of the project was appropriate.

“We note that there is no unified standard pricing template for the cost of building a kilometre of road anywhere in the world. The realities of road building have much to do with several variables: location, terrain, type of construction, number of lanes, lane width, surface durability, and the number of bridges, to name a few.

“Yet, for engagement, we reviewed some cost estimates in some other countries to establish the context of fraud or otherwise that Waziri Abubakar is trying to throw up.

“To build a 2-lane road of 12 metres wide of each lane with no bridges in states of North Eastern United States of America is $3.34m per km (when converted to Naira using the N1200/$ adopted by Umahi, it comes to N4.08bn per km) while the same 2-lane road in South Eastern USA with no bridges is $ 3.78m per km (N4.53bn per km)

“According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the average cost of building a concrete road in rural areas is around $2.5m per mile, while in urban areas it can cost upwards of $5m per mile.

“In California, the estimated cost of building a concrete road ranges from $3 million to $6 million per mile, depending on the location and other factors. In Australia, average road project costs were around $5.1m (N6.12bn) per lane kilometre in 2017.

“But in Bangladesh, according to the World Bank, the estimated cost of construction is $6.6m (N7.92bn) per kilometre for the Rangpur-Hatikumrul highway, $7m (N8.4bn) per kilometre for Dhaka-Sylhet highway, $11.9 million (N14.28 billion) per kilometre for Dhaka-Mawa highway. This underscores cost differentials in road construction because of peculiarities in terrains.

“These figures are far higher than the N4.329 billion per kilometre of 10 lanes Coastal Road with very peculiar terrains that Umahi says Hitech has commenced construction of.

“For clarity, a technical analysis of the features of the road will suffice: The Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road is designed to be 10 lanes with a total pavement of 59.2 metres with 100 metres corridor. Of this corridor, there will be five lanes on the right and five lanes on the left. This comes with a 25-metre train track.”

The policy think tank added that the federal government deserves commendation for reducing the cost of the project to N4.329bn per km from the N8.52bn/km in the initial design for a four-lane Lagos-Calabar highway by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

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