Nigeria’s works and housing minister Babatunde Fashola on Monday said the ongoing road construction projects in the country are targetted at connecting East, West, North and South African countries by road.

Speaking at the 70th Session of the Trans Sahara Road Liaison Committee in Abuja, Fashola informed Member Country Ministers in charge of road infrastructure from Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Chad and Niger of Nigeria’s efforts towards the establishment of the Trans Sahara Route.

“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,” Fashola said.

“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.”

The Nigerian minister explained that a total of 9 highways at different stages of construction are meant to achieve African connectivity.

“Three of these highways, he said to pass through the territory of Nigeria,” Fashola said.

Fashola listed Lagos – Dakar through Seme in the Benin Republic, Lagos – Mombasa through Yaoundè in Cameroon and Lagos – Algiers, which was the subject of the meeting in Abuja as the parts the Nigerian government is playing to contribute to the connectivity between African countries.

He disclosed that the Lagos – Algiers road covers 9,022km (7,171km 80%) in asphalt while 1,851km (20%) in earth road.

Fashola said the road serves 37 regions, 74 urban centres with 60 million inhabitants in 6 member countries of the Trans Sahara Road Liaison Committee.

The minister stated that 1,131km of the 9,022km passes through Lagos to Ibadan, Ilorin – Jebba, Kaduna – Kano – Kongolam where Nigeria has a border with the Niger Republic.

Explaining the importance of the connectivity, Fashola stated that “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 maximise the enormous economic opportunities available within member countries. There are immense possibilities from Fashion, Agriculture, Technology, Energy to Film and Music.”

He said the Trans Sahara Route and the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) Treaty is a top priority in President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to integrate and expand Nigeria’s economy.

Fashola said Buhari had placed the funding of the reconstruction of the Lagos – Ibadan Section and the Kaduna – Kano Section under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) to ensure that there is no funding gap in the execution of the project.

Dennis Erezi / Guardian

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