President Muhammadu Buhari has on Monday said that the Tran-Saharan highway projects would continue to receive deserved attention and funding by his administration, not only to bolster economic activities but to enhance regional and cultural integration in Africa.
President Buhari made this known in his remarks at the opening of the 70th session of the Trans-Saharan Road Liaison Committee (TRLC) in Abuja with all the Ministers of Works from all six member states in attendance.
The meeting which holds every four years would review most of what had transpired in the 69th session and also get an update on the works of the technical and experts works on the trans-Saharan roads.
Buhari was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Mohammed Dingyadi.
The president said when he took over the mantle of leadership in 2015, his administration decided to introduce changes geared towards sustainable and quality infrastructural development to drive economic development and job creation.
“Our commitment is to increase Nigeria’s stock of road infrastructure in other to ease the cost and time of doing business and improve on economic competitiveness as envisaged under our Economic and Recovery Growth Plan.
“In view of this our administration shares the aspiration and vision of the trans-Saharan road liaison committee aimed at encouraging member countries to develop roads of trans-Saharan within their respective territories.
“It is a pride to the African continent and that is why Nigeria has supported and will continue to support its existence.
“Special funds had been committed to the reconstruction works on the sections of trans-Saharan roads from Lagos to Ibadan and Kaduna to kano, other sections of the road from Ibadan to Ilorin, Ilorin to Jebba, Jebba to Makwa and to Kaduna, these roads are either being dualised or been rehabilitated. ‘’
He congratulated the trans-Saharan road liaison committee for its tenacity and achievement over the years I ask member states and their representatives to remain committed to the prompt delivery of this crucial development of road transport infrastructure for the benefit of our people.
Also speaking, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing said there exists trans-African highway plan which sought to connect the whole of Africa starting from Cape town to Tunisia.
“There is a coast to coast connectivity from the West to the East of Africa and North –East of African to the North-West of Africa and from the South –West of Africa to East Africa.
“A total of nine of the highways of the different stages of connectivity, three of these highways pass through Nigeria and of all these 80 percent are at the point of completion.
‘`The roads serve 37 regions Africa and connect 74 urban centres and 60 million people across the six-member states who are part of the committee and on the local front, the road passes through Lagos through Ibadan, to Ilorin to Jeba to Kaduna to Kano where we share a border with the Republic of Niger.
Fashola said the road offers many opportunities for member countries while giving an update date on the work so far done he said they were expanding the Lagos-Shagamu on the Lagos to the Ibadan axis among other developments.
He commended the efforts made by President Mohammadu Buhari in ensuring that the ministry benefited from the Presidential Development Fund, adding that the investment in roads would help to harness the opportunities therein.
Min his remarks, the Secretary-General of TRLC, Mr. Ayadi Mohammed, said during the session discussions would centre on the progress and problems of projects country by country.
He said among things to be discussed were the necessary increase of the projects and what must be done to stimulate trade between the two coasts of the Sahara and review the reasons of the degrade of some Saharan roads
Also, he said the session would be used to explain the technical causes and raise awareness of the importance of road maintenance of roads he added that there will be an exposition on the power of collaboration to build a better world.
Mr. Chukwunike Uzo, Director Highways Planning, and Development, on his part, said the trans-Saharan road liaison committee, with six countries; Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Tunisia, Algeria, and Mali.
Uzo said when it was formed in 1966 it was to establish a road link across the six countries to encourage growth, socio-economic activities, development, cooperation, and trade.