The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Tuesday November 7, 2017 in Abuja, flagged off the 9th Steering Committee & Experts Meeting on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme saying the highway would enhance rapid sub-regional integration and communication and other benefits among the stakeholders.
In his address at the Transcorp Hilton venue of the 3-day Meeting, Fashola named other benefits of the Highway to include improvement in socio- economic activities among the West African countries, creation of employment opportunities and reduction in social vices, adding that rapid integration would enable the sub-region keep abreast with other fast growing economies such as Asia and South America.
The Minister told the gathering of experts and professionals representing the five ECOWAS countries involved in the project-Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Benin Republic and Togo- “With the development of this Corridor, we will enhance rapid integration that already exists in other economic blocs in other parts of the world”.
“It will improve socio- economic activities among the West African countries and it will lead to rapid integration, creation of employment opportunities and reduce social vices among our population”, he said adding, “It testifies to the strong bond among the African countries with common goals and aspirations to develop our sub-region both in terms of standard of living for our people and the level of communication between our countries”.
Commending the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments for their vision leading to the development of the project, Fashola described the meeting of the Steering Committee and Experts on the project as “crucial to the success of meeting the development of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor project”.
The Minister told the Committee, “Let me say that when this Corridor is finished, very few people will see the work that you do; very few people will know how many hours you have spent preparing, planning, working and ultimately implementing the project. But I see that work, I acknowledge it and I appreciate it”.
“As you are well aware, road development drives economic growth which the West African Sub-Region must pursue to keep abreast with the fast growing economies in Asia and South America with a view to reducing the migration of our youths and also keeping our precious human capital on the Continent”, he said.
Expressing the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Government to the realisation of the project as a means to enhance trade and communication, Fashola declared, “This is why I am also happy to report at this Opening Session that Nigeria has now signed the financing agreement, which was one of the outstanding issues”.
The Minister, who also acknowledged the support of the Minister of Finance in signing the Financing Agreement, noted that the global Ease of Doing Business report which was published recently acknowledged that Nigeria made “some inspiring progress”. He added, “And there is still work to be done if we are to deliver on vision of economic prosperity that we have”.
“This is why I am very delighted and honoured to address this meeting of experts on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Development Project in preparation for the 9th Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting which will hold at this venue over the next few days”, he said.
Also thanking members of the team in the Nigerian Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, from the Permanent Secretary to the Directors who were at the flag-off, Fashola, who specially thanked the Director Highways, (Planning and Development) Engineer Chukwunwike Uzo, declared, “I can say very clearly that if these Directors, our staff, were trying to build their own houses, the commitment they will show will not be greater than the commitment they are showing in the development of this project”.
Thanking the Committee members for their efforts and wishing them “very happy and fruitful deliberations”, Fashola urged them to dedicate themselves to the noble project, “a project you are clearly committed to”, adding, “It holds the key to cross-border trade, to tourism, to cultural integration and to prosperity”.
Earlier in her remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Antoinette G. Weeks said the meeting of the Steering Committee and Experts on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development would finalize the documents for the various aspects of the project including, according to her, consultancy services in financing and road safety as well as the review of the various technical studies culminating in the award of the contracts.
The Commissioner thanked Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and the Government for hosting the three day event and specifically expressed appreciation to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, as well as the Permanent Secretary, for the ground works and preparations leading to the present meeting.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway is a 1,008 kilometre highway that will traverse five countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo and Nigeria and will provide access to vibrant sea ports which account for about 90 per cent exports and 60 per cent imports across the sub-region.
According to the details released at the event, approximately 558 kilometres of the highway will run through Ghana, approximately 135 kilometres will run through Benin Republic, approximately 180 kilometres through Cote D’Ivoire, approximately 57 kilometres through Togo and approximately 78 Kilometres though Nigeria.