The federal government on Saturday said the proposed 470-kilometre Abuja-Lagos Greenfield superhighway, which would be completed in four years, would last 100 years.
The Minister of Works, David Umahi, told journalists in Lagos that the road would be built by a private sector consortium at no cost to the government.
The consortium will operate the facility for a yet-to-be-determined period on a build, operate, and transfer deal, he said, adding that it will be tolled at different points to enable the investors to recoup their investment.
He assured that the four-and-a-half-hour travel time for vehicles plying the route at 100 kilometres per hour was achievable.
“When I first introduced this to the public, many doubting Thomases were saying ‘it is impossible, Lagos-Abuja that is done in 14 hours cannot be done in four and half-hours’, that is the renewed hope of Mr. President,” he said.
The minister explained that President Bola Tinubu approved that the project be speeded up, adding that the contractor should be on site in three months.
Umahi said: “The president has approved that I fast-track this project. This project is going to be two lanes but each lane is going to be a two-carriage way and it is going to be 14 metres.
“The only carriageway that is equivalent to this is the Third Mainland Bridge where each carriageway is 14 metres. It is going to be built on 275-millimeter-thick concrete.
“The shelf life design of this project is going to be 100 years. It is going to be completed within four years and this is doable. Some bridges will be built. Many tolling points are going to be there.
“We are not putting any kobo but we will assist them in every direction.”
He explained that from Lagos, the road would pass through eight states in the South-west and North-central before it gets to Abuja.
The states are Kogi, Ekiti, Oyo, FCT, Lagos, Ogun, Niger and Kwara.
He praised the private consortium, Advance Engineering Company, which is behind the deal, saying he was “very satisfied with their concept and what they have put in place.”
Umahi added: “So, the next thing is to bring the business proposal so we can negotiate on what the cost of the project is going to be. Then they go to the Ministry of Finance and negotiate on the issue of their money.
“The good thing is that we are building this road on concrete so we can predict the cost. In asphalt, you cannot predict the cost. The cost of asphalt roads changes every month.
“Concrete roads are more durable and cheaper than asphalt and I have directed all ongoing projects that have not advanced up to 80 per cent to change the remaining to concrete.”
The minister added that plans were underway to make the road a business and industrial corridor with hotels, factories, and housing estates, among others, on the route.
Emphasising the seriousness of the project, Umahi said the contract would be watertight such that if the consortium backed out unreasonably, it may have to pay a fine of $10 million.
Chairman of the consortium, Kenny Martins, described the project as “the first of its kind in Africa”, saying it would be ICT-compliant with a fibre optic connection, solar-powered street lights and security points on the entire stretch of the road.
Martins said in Lagos, the route would begin from the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge in Epe to Abuja.