The reconstruction of Wharf Road in Apapa may be accelerated very soon as AXXEL, formerly Oando Gas and Power, the owner of Gaslink Nigeria Limited that has the right-of-way on which gas pipelines are laid in Apapa said it is ready to relocate the pipelines for public interest.
According to the company, it has held meeting with the Comptroller General Federal Ministry of Works on the way forward for all the parties on Monday.
“We have agreed to deploy a civil contractor to commence works on a pipeline protection scheme, which we had earlier agreed with all stakeholders on the Apapa including Dangote, Flourmills and Federal Ministry of Works,” said Bolaji Osunsanya, managing director, AXXEL who spoke to BusinessDay on the development. He said for the purpose of public interest the company would have to relocate.
In his response, Godwin Idemudia, general manager communications for Eko Electricity Distribution Company told BusinessDay that his company is not responsible for any delay in the project as it is ready to relocate the underground cables anytime the construction company wants the electricity company to come and remove them.
The two companies did not however state who is going to be responsible for the cost of removing these assets.
Stakeholders had entertained fears that the project will not be completed within the one year time frame agreed to by the Federal Government, the financiers and the contractor, AG Dangote.
Almost five months after the construction work was flagged off, the contractor has made no significant headway, due to the hindrance created by the discovery of underground utility cables belonging to Gaslink and Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) that require relocation.
The road, stretching two kilometres from the Area ‘B’ Police Command to Apapa port, was handed over to Dangote Group, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) by Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, on behalf of the Federal Government, on June 18, to be completed within one year.
The three companies are financing the construction work at the cost of N4.3 billion, as part of their corporate social responsibility to a community where they do business.
Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), one of the project financiers, confirmed the development on Monday. Usman, who expressed concern over the slow pace of the construction, said that lack of funding for the relocation of cables was the major challenge facing the road project.
“I was at the project site two or three weeks back, and I was disappointed at the pace of work on Apapa-Ijora-Wharf road, but the issue of the relocation of the utilities found underground was brought to the fore,” said Hadiza to select journalists in Lagos.
According to her, the funding for the relocation was removed from the project bill of quantity, which now poses a serious challenge on how to fund the relocation of the Gaslink and electric power cables found underground.
Hadiza, however, said that the authority had written to the minister of Works, Power and Housing, who has also written to the procurement team to look at the bill of quantity and “put back the fund for the relocation of the utilities in the bill, to enable the contractor make progress on the work.”
She however said that the NPA has made clear to the contractor, the need to do more work and to resolve the back end, while the process of resolving all the issues hindering construction is ongoing.
On budgetary allocation for the rehabilitation of port access roads, she said: “We have written several letters demanding that the Federal Ministry of Works makes budgetary provisions for all the access roads to the ports across the country and not just Western port roads alone.
She identified roads such as Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Ikom Bridge leading to Calabar. “This was why the NPA had to intervene by earmarking the sum of N1.8 billion for the construction of Apapa-Ijora Wharf road, which is not under our purview but we had to do that to ensure that the road is constructed to the desired quality.”
Hadiza, alongside other stakeholders during a breakout session at the just concluded Nigeria Economic Summit, in Abuja, had made a case for the declaration of a state of emergency in Apapa. This is as businesses, residents and motorists continue to suffer untold hardship, as different roads leading into Apapa, including Mile 2-Tincan, Ijora-Wharf, Funsho Williams (Western Avenue) and Mobil road, have been taken over by hordes of trucks making their way daily to Apapa, to lift petroleum products or evacuate goods imported into the country.
Many of the tank farms located within Apapa have no parking spaces for over 1,000 tankers which enter the port community everyday, forcing them therefore to park on roads and bridges.