Nigeria has expressed flashes of ambition, although the ambition is placed in a hotbed of action that is hardly practicable. But itis still what it is; Nigeria's Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola said that the ongoing road projects in the country are serving the grand purpose of linking other African countries in the eastern, southern and northern parts of the continent.
Fashola spoke with much conviction, not caring much about the feasibility and viability of his plans. He is of the thinking that Nigeria's roads are not as bad as they are portrayed to be. And because of that, nothing is stopping them from connecting the continent right up to Tunisia.
He was speaking at the 70th Session of the Trans Sahara Road Liaison Committee in Abuja last week. He intimated these infrastructural hopes to the Member Country Ministers in charge of road infrastructure from Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Chad, and Niger. The establishment of the Trans Sahara Route is something that the minister is preaching about with so much determination.
Fashola remarked, "Trans African Highway Plan [seeks] to connect Africa from Cape Town to Tunisia either by driving through East Africa Border, the West African Border or through the Centre of Africa."
"There is also a Coast to Coast connectivity from West to East Africa, North-East Africa to North-West Africa and South-West Africa to East Africa. Three of these highways, he said to pass through the territory of Nigeria." In order to achieve the goal of African connectivity, Fashola said that there is a total of 9 highways at different phases of construction.
Some of the routes he made reference to are Lagos – Dakar through Seme in the Benin Republic, Lagos – Mombasa through Yaoundè in Cameroon and Lagos – Algiers. Nigeria has committed to taking an active role in the fruition of this project. He further said that the Lagos - Algiers road covers 9,022km (7,171km 80%) in asphalt while 1,851km (20%) in earth road.
To Fashola, connectivity is an integral part of ensuring that member countries' economies are all linked. "The development of the Trans Sahara Route is to ensure integration, improvement of economic activities and cooperation between Member Countries."
"This will provide the business community access to explore and maximize the enormous economic opportunities available within member countries. There are immense possibilities from Fashion, Agriculture, Technology, Energy to Film and Music."
The funding and sponsoring of the Lagos – Ibadan Section and the Kaduna – Kano Section is under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
The whole idea of this project may seem ludicrous in all senses. Embarking on such mega-deals while the people are suffering from acquiring a decent life with the very basic commodities of life is hypocritical. And if not aware, such projects create unnecessary debt. It would be prudent and noble to fix the situation at home first before taking on such huge infrastructural projects. Not to say these projects are not needed, but priorities regarding humanity matter more.
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