24 April 2014, Port Harcourt – The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has said it has completed the design of the proposed 704-kilometre East-West Road running from Calabar to Lagos and was now looking for partners for the execution of the project.
Chairman of the commission, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, said in an interview with journalists in Port Harcourt at the weekend that the road would be the catalyst for a comprehensive development of the Niger Delta and the entire coastal region of the country.
He said the project was an important key that would open Nigeria’s coastal corridor to rapid development and that the commission was committed to the construction of the road.
Ewa-Henshaw noted that the idea of the coastal road was conceived by the interventionist agency and articulated at an international conference held in Port Harcourt from December 10 to 12, 2001, under the aegis of the commission and the UNDP.
“The design of the road has been completed. We are now looking for partners to help us execute the project. We will be calling on the federal government, the Niger Delta Ministry, international donors and the oil companies to assist in building this road,” he said.
According to Ewa-Henshaw, the NDDC would build and strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders to actualise the dream project. “The Public Private Partnership, PPP, mechanism will be explored to leverage NDDC’s ability to undertake major/critical projects towards the delivery of its mandate,” he said.
He said a good road network connecting the entire Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the rest of the country was the beginning of economic development and emancipation in the region.
He noted that the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan identified the challenge of paucity of transportation infrastructure and expressed the hope that the region would be greatly transformed with the successful actualisation of the coastal road project.
The NDDC boss his presentation, a design engineer with Pearl Consultants, Mr. Mayne David-West, said the East-West Coastal Road was pivotal to the rapid development of not just the Niger Delta region alone but the entire nation.
He said by strategic design, the road would be the Nigerian extension of the Trans-West African Coastal Highway segment linking Dakar-Banjul-Monrovia-Lome-Lagos.
David-West, a lead consultant on the engineering design of the coastal road, said the design had been completed and just waiting to be awarded.
He suggested that the project should be executed through a multi-lateral funding arrangement and urged the federal government to seek funding window through the PPP and concessionary loans since the capital resources needed for the building of the coastal road was huge.
David-West stressed the importance of the coastal road, which stretches from Odukpani Junction in Cross River State to Ibeju on Lekki-Epe expressway in Lagos State, traversing over 1,000 communities.
“The unique alignment of the East-West Coastal Road, coupled with the abundant natural resources available along its corridor, easily qualifies it as natural ‘trade corridor’,” he said.
He noted that the economic potentials of the road were bountiful as it passes through nine states, namely Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos.
He stressed that the road would link up major industrial facilities such as the Tinapa Free Trade Zone in Calabar, Bonny LNG, Brass LNG, Koko Free Trade Zone, among others.
*Ernest Chinwo – Thisday