Uche Usim, Abuja
Kaduna might be experiencing some troubling security challenges; but that has not deterred the Kaduna State government from partnering with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Limited (CCECC) to address the crippling infrastructure deficit in the state.
Encapsulated as an urban renewal agenda, the Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai through the Kaduna State Road Agency (KADRA) has awarded 19 road contracts, including bridges and a shopping mall (Kaduna Galaxy Mall) to the Chinese firm.
Conducting journalists round the various project sites in Kaduna recently, CCECC General manager, Kaduna Office, Mr Tian Xiaoqiang Kelvin said about 1,700 workers were involved in the multiple road projects.
Some of the roads and facilities being built are the 1.2 kilometre km Waff Front Road to Independence Way; Race Course Road currently under construction and about to be expanded from a single lane of 7.3 kilometre butnow being built to be a dual carriageway, among others.
Kelvin said: “Alkali Road was completed about a year ago. It was built in less than one month. It has been officially transferred to the state government. Katuru and Alkali roads have been built and transferred to the government. Alkali Road is a one kilometre road. It houses some banks. It is in the Angwan Rimi area. If it is maintained well, the two-layer road can last for 50 years.
“Rabah Road to NDA Road flyover bridge with 270 meters span, excluding retaining walls. CCECC has the longest flyover bridge in Nigeria, with a 30-meter span.
“Economically, this 30-meter span bridge is good as it reduces the cost of funding on the government.
“Two per cent of the project cost is spent on security because of the volatile nature of the area. The Yakubu Gowon 2.4km dualized road was also constructed by CCECC. Leventis Roundabout now tied to Yakubu Gowon under bridge; it will ease traffic, linking the town with the central market popularly called Kasuwa market.
“The State is happy with the speed of the work in all our projects. We always want to deliver on the projects to earn the trust of the government. Throughout the Coronavirus lockdown, we never stopped work for a day. We were constantly at work – working both day and night. CCECC is giving the Kaduna people confidence.
“We invested much money in the protection of our staff since the outbreak of the pandemic. We adhered to all guidelines of the government.
He, however, regretted that compensation of the indigenes is too slow and often retard the momentum of work.
“Government should help us to quicken the process of compensation of all affected people. That will help to speed up the work on our sites,” he added.
Managing Director of KADRA, Dr Mohammed Lawal Magaji, revealed to journalists that the massive road construction and rehabilitation project aligns with the urban renewal project launched in 2019. He added that 19 different roads were awarded to CCECC.
“Later, two were added. Four of the roads have been completed by CCECC. We have other roads that have reached advanced levels of completion. Anytime from now, some of the roads will be completed.
“Apart from the roads under the construction of CCECC, we have five more roads to be constructed within the metropolis (in four local government areas). Work will soon commence on them.
Underpass and flyover bridges are also being constructed to modernise the state.
“We also have urban renewal projects in Zaria and Kafachan that will soon take off,” Magaji revealed.
On sourcing of funds despite the catastrophic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the KADRA boss said his agency’s mandate was strictly to handle road construction, while the financing aspect is handled by the state Ministry of Finance.
He added: “The essence of this urban renewal project is to open up areas to connect communities and link major roads. Once you have all these incorporated, security challenges will be tackled, investors will come in. These massive projects will create job opportunities for our youths. Travel time will be reduced because the roads will minimize traffic gridlock. The social economic activities of the state will improve and Kaduna State will be great again. Because of the development that is usually associated with road construction, we expect that Kaduna State will soon experience higher GDP.
He added that the Kaduna Market Development & Management Company is the supervising agency for the projects.
Magaji said when the proposed shopping mall is completed, it will be the first and only mall in Kaduna.
Already, residents are feeling the positive impact of the road projects. Ayuba Ibrahim Dawaki, a resident of Alkali road/Murtala square, adjacent to the shopping complex, described the dualisation of Alkali Road as a good innovation by the authorities.
“We believe it will attract businesses to this area, not just from within Kaduna, but all over the country. People are now going to have a place to come and showcase their products. The road has created easy access to our shops here. I strongly believe that the roads will spark off business activities in Kaduna the same way roads in Abuja have opened up the place for businesses,” he said.
Also commenting, a resident of Katuru Road, Ibrahim Mohammad said: “If there is anything I don’t want to remember, it is the years of nightmare caused by the road for users.
“But when el-Rufai engaged CCECC to build the road, it took less than expected period for us to experience what a tarred road is. Living here has become worthwhile. Businesses have opened. For us, the economic impact of this road is immeasurable. “
For Aliyu Sani, Katuru road is a dream come true. “They did a very good job here. As you can see, it has a very good drainage system and a very smooth surface, making it easy for motorists and other users to conduct their businesses.
At an interface with journalists, the Managing Director of the Kaduna Markets Development and Management Company, Aminu Bayero, said the Kaduna Galaxy and Salko Mall sits on an 11,000 square meters floor area.
“It has 48 line shops. It will be the first of its kind in Kaduna. The project cost about N4 billion. Construction work commenced in the mall about a year ago but was slowed down by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
“Tremendous progress has been made. The project is expected to be completed for public use by April 2021. It is a joint venture where the state is putting N1 billion and the land as part of its equity contribution to the project, while the joint venture partner – Amsalco Industries Limited is putting the rest of the money”, he said.
Bayero is confident that CCECC will deliver the project within the agreed time and at the agreed cost. He said the company’s past record earned him that confidence.
“With this project that is being handled by a competent company as CCECC, Kaduna will soon have a shopping mall with a recreational centre where you can come and have a good time.
“The economic prospects of this project are many. It will create jobs, boost the internally generated revenue of the state as a result of the different taxes that would be paid from the operation of the mall. It is a major component of the government’s urban renewal project where we are making our city more livable by providing facilities such as this. It will increase the leisure and recreational options for the people of the state. We expect that between 100 and 400 jobs would be created when the mall is fully in operation.
“Of course, CCECC is creating many jobs for the artisans and other professionals being engaged in the construction work in Kaduna. I believe we will complete it by the end of April 2021. The work is 50 per cent done. We’ve passed the most difficult part of the job.
“We expect to generate grossly N1.6 billion from the mall every year. Safety and security are part of the design – it is part of what CCECC and our development partners are looking at. So, they have incorporated it into the design. Of course, we need the physical security, but we are focused more on technology – to have CCTVs to secure the entire place and ensure that people who come here feel secure.
“Not only this, the state government is determined to ensure that its investments and the investments of other private people coming into Kaduna are well secured,” he explained.