By Daniel Tyokua
The Federal Government has begun plans on the best approach to manage national highway in the country.
Babatunde Fashiola, Minister of Works and Housing, said the initiative was going to bring about multi-dimensional resources of skills, manpower, finance, technology and others into the National Highway governance within Nigeria’s 35,000 km of federal highway.
The minister who spoke at the webinar for stakeholders consultation on Highway Development Management Initiative (HDMI), explained that many of the plans were already in place.
He listed them to include tow trucks, advertising, rest places like Ore and Umunede which remain legendary in the minds of frequent road users.
Fashiola said the stakeholders consultation was in collaboration with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) at the instance of his ministry.
“What this initiative seeks to achieve is to bring order, accountability and profitable entrepreneurship to the operation, management and maintenance of our federal highways.
“What we have done now is to identify 10 highways representing about 2,225 km and 6.4% of our 35,000km Federal Highway Network as a pilot first phase of the HDMI”
He acknowledged President Muhammadu Buhari commitment to infrastructure, and that the HDMI only seeks to give effect to the President’s commitment and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The minister explained that the initiative is totally home grown, developed within the Ministry, by the staff, both young and old, and in collaboration with ICRC.
“This is totally made in Nigeria initiative in conception and execution thus far; although it is already exciting and eliciting interest beyond the shores of Nigeria”
“The road will bring about erection of gantries and directional signage (all of which our ministry has designed, standardized and costed) toll plazas (already designed and standardized);
“Weighbridges partly constructed, needing completion and a warehouse to operate it; Street lighting and advertising opportunities, rest areas, sites already identified, concept designs developed with facilities for catering, lodging, fueling, car repairs, spare parts sales opportunities;
Others include road repairs, maintenance, vegetation clearing and labour opportunities; towing vehicle operation for recovery of broken-down vehicles; Lane marking with thermoplastic paints; Waste management; right of way management for telecommunication assets. Ambulance services with first Responders during emergencies.
“These are some of the possibilities we foresee as we intend to optimize the operations of what currently exists” h said.
He stated that currently the strengthening of internal processes to ensure that every highway is identifiable with one officer of Ministry of Works and Housing under the Know Your Road and Own Your Networks is captured.
Though he said research and studies suggest that on this journey, the first phase of 10 routes of 2,225 km can elicit an investment of over N160 billion, approximating to about N16bn per route and unleash opportunities for prosperity.
“With this, we anticipate about 46,694 direct jobs spanning construction, Installation, fabrication, security, and waste management to mention a few. The indirect job opportunities and spin-offs remain a matter of excitable and mouth-watering expectation” he said.
On his part, the director of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chidi Izuwah in his presentation noted improving Infrastructural development should be taken more serious in all sectors.
The webinar meeting attracted most stakeholders in the works Sector, especially Bongo Adi of Lagos Business School.