The Anti-Corruption Network (ACN) has called for an independent scrutiny of the recent road construction contracts awarded by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), saying the amounts were outrageous.
The Executive Secretary of ACN and a former Senator, Dino Melaye, at a news conference on Friday in Abuja said the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road project recently awarded at the cost of N797bn is the most expensive on earth.
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According to him, the road is said to be 375km kilometers in total, but is probably the most expensive road construction on the earth at the average of US$6m (N2.1 billion) per kilometer.
“The Anti-Corruption Network has observed with dismay that the cost of road construction in Nigeria has been consistently outrageous which now calls for serious scrutiny. According to a report put out by the apex bank of the world, World Bank, the cost of constructing 1 km of road is N238m. This figure is the benchmark that usually should not be surpassed regardless of several factors,” Melaye said.
He recalled that in 2013, the Federal Government awarded the contract for reconstruction of the 127km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at N167bn (US$1 billion at the time it was awarded).
He said that interestingly, and also in 2013, a similar contract was awarded for the 1,028km Lagos-Abidjan road project and the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) estimated this project to cost between N167bn and N240bn.
“At the projected maximum cost of N240bn, the cost of the ECOWAS road per km will be N234m whereas the six-lane expressway road contract awarded by the Federal Government at N167bn cost will be N1.3bn per km
“In other words, the number of kilometers to be covered by the ECOWAS project is eight times higher than Nigeria’s Lagos-Ibadan Express road project; and the cost per km is far lower than that of Nigeria,” Melaye said.
He added that the ECOWAS six-lane project is expected to connect five major cities in the region namely Lagos, Nigeria; Cotonou, Benin Republic; Lome, Togo; Accra, Ghana and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
“Research also shows that in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, it will cost N33m or US$194,000 to build one km of paved road. In Liberia, the cost of building a km road has been estimated at US$1m (N381m) or US$1.2m (N457m). But the story is obviously different in Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth. It has become almost a norm for a kilometer of road in Nigeria to cost more than N1bn to construct.
“The question that begs for answer is why is Nigeria the costliest place to build roads in Africa? The answer may not be far-fetched as it is believed that the government intentionally allows these hikes in other to get kickbacks from the contractors, since they can’t run the projects themselves,” Melaye said.