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Strategic Lagos highway nears completion

Strategic Lagos highway nears completion

A $209m highway under construction in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos will be ready by the end of 2020, the firm leading the project has said.

The expansion of the 35-km Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, stretching from Lagos’ biggest port Apapa to the Ojota district, will be finished this year the president of Nigerian industrial conglomerate, the Dangote Group, said on a recent visit to the site.

The project is set to overhaul one of Nigeria’s most congested roadways, the Apapa-Oshodi highway, for the first time since it was built in 1978, adding ten lanes to the system and repairing and reinforcing it connecting arteries.

It will also ease gridlock leading to the country’s biggest port, Apapa, where long tentacles of traffic can leave truckers queuing for hours, sometimes days at a time. Traffic at the port cost Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote $69m (N25bn) between 2017 and 2019, he said.

 “This road will actually open up the economy. It will bring a lot of jobs and a lot of factories that have moved out will be able to move back.” 

The highway’s rehabilitation will ease huge pressure on infrastructure in Africa’s largest city of 21m. Lagos is famous for its traffic, has no public rail system and few roads connecting residential and commercial quarters. City planners are currently building an urban light rail system which they say will be ready by 2022. The government has also urged commuters to take to the city’s inland waterways as an alternative means of transport, but Lagos’ water taxis and ferries have their own challenges.

On a recent visit to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway site with the Dangote chairman, Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said the completion of the road would bring businesses flocking back to the rundown district:

“Once the economy of Apapa returns, all the clearing and forwarding, shipping, newspaper companies and all others doing business will resume fully and the economy will bounce back,’’ Fashola said.

The Dangote Group kicked-off construction work on the road in 2018 as part of a deal with the Nigerian government that would see the company enjoy a 10-year tax rebate worth $201m (N72.9 billion). A project to rebuild the road in 2013 costing $441 million stalled in 2015. 

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