Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
As part of plans to improve trade relations along Trans-Sahran trade route, the Federal Government has begun the construction of roads linking member countries of Chad, Niger Republic, Mali, Algeria, and Tunisia.
The expansion of 5.4km Abuja-Keffi Expressway and dualisation of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi Road starts from the southwest of Abuja, passing through the Federal Capital Territory, and the states of Nasarawa and Benue. The project consists of two of the 5.4km reconstruction and expansion section of Abuja-Keffi Expressway and the 221.8km reconstruction and expansion section of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi Expressway.
As the first Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan road project in Nigeria, 15 per cent counterpart funds was raised by the Federal Government, and 85 per cent was provided by the China Export-Import Bank’s Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan, while the contractual construction period is 36 months. According to the Managing Director of the construction firm, Zhang Wenfeng, as the leading force in the field of infrastructure construction in China, China Harbor Engineering Company pays high level attention to the project. “Since April 1, 2019, the company has undertaken the designing, camp planning and construction, equipment and materials procurement and mobilisation, earthwork, bridge and culvert construction in accordance with the requirements of the construction programme.
“So far, more than 500 sets of construction machinery and equipment are on site; 254 Chinese employees have been deployed and more than 3,400 jobs are provided for Nigerians.
“The project has completed site clearing for 170km, accounting for 75 per cent of the total length of the project; completed excavation and filling works of 78km, accounting for 35 per cent of the total length of the project; completed 169 culverts, accounting for 49 per cent of the total number of culverts; completed five bridge spread foundations, accounting for 36 per cent of the total number of bridges.
“The annual project plan for 2020 is site clearing for 30km, accounting for 13 per cent of the total length of the project; excavation and filling works of 87km, accounting for 39 per cent of the total length of the project; 60km reinstatement of the existing highway, accounting for 27 per cent of the total length of the project; 70km of newly pavement work, accounting for 31 per cent of the project.
“At present, all the staff have done all the preparatory works and are ready to seize the golden construction period of the dry season ad well as accelerate the progress of site construction preparation.
“The successful completion of the Keffi Road Project is of great significance not only to the economic and social development, resource exploitation development, industrial restructuring and regional interconnection in the region, but also promotes the bilateral economic and trade relations between China and Nigeria” the MD said.