The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday, signed a N228bn agreement with the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria and AAA Infrastructure Nigeria Limited for the reconstruction of the Benin-Asaba Expressway.
The Edo State Government will invest as an equity partner in the 25-year Highway Development Management Initiative Concession to Africa Plus Partners, which will fund the road project.
Signing the deal at the Government House, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Obaseki, described the partnership as a great financing model for unlocking infrastructure development in the country.
He called for a sustained partnership between states and the Federal Government.
He said, “Between 2000 and 2001, when a committee was set up to redesign the Pension arrangement in Nigeria. The whole idea was to move into a contributory pension arrangement and begin a process of capital formation in the country by getting workers in the country to contribute their pensions and these pensions will be invested in rebuilding the infrastructure of this country.
“That was the dream 30 years ago. I was on that committee alongside Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It was the committee that gave birth to the pension funds that we have in the country today.
“Those pension funds have in excess of N16tn under savings but no outlet to invest them on, but forced to invest in short-term papers issued by the Federal Government.
“With transactions like this coming on stream, we will be creating opportunities for these pension funds to take our savings and put them into investments that will really develop Nigeria. This transaction for us is significant and we believe and hope that it’s the first of several that will come.”
According to the governor, the Benin-Asaba artery is very critical to the economy of Nigeria because it is that route that moves the bulk of goods from the port in Lagos State in the West to the Eastern and South-South parts of Nigeria.
“60km of this road is in Edo State and a large portion of this road starts from Ring Road through Abudu and Agbor to Asaba. The Edo State Government at some point in time had to invest money to do remedial work on that road because we were almost cut off.
“I am glad that the Federal Government has now concessioned the road and not just to anybody but people who know what to do and have real money, not portfolio managers who sign contracts and sell the same,” he stated.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Triple-A Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, Ike Chioke, said the agreement with the state government was for the complete reconstruction of the Benin-Asaba Expressway under the HDMI Concession to Africa Plus Partners.
Also, the Managing Director of Triple-A Infrastructure, Niran Ajakaiye, reassured that the project would be world-class, noting that the road construction project would commence from Benin in Edo State to Asaba in Delta State and terminate at the Second Niger Bridge.
In January last year, the Federal government approved the concession of federal road corridors under the Highway Development and Management Initiative for N11.25tn for 25 years.