Nigeria’s strategic location and size result in four routes of the Trans-African Highway network using its national road system:
- The Trans-Sahara Highway to Algeria which is almost complete.
- The Trans-Sahelian Highway to Dakar is substantially complete.
- The Trans-West African Coastal Highway starts in Nigeria, connecting it westwards to Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire with feeder highways to landlocked Burkina Faso and Mali. When construction in Liberia and Sierra Leone is finished, the highway will continue to seven other ECOWAS nations further west.
- The Lagos-Mombasa Highway is very much awaited to link caters Cameroon and there is the hope for a continuing highway to Central Africa and Southern Africa which could boost trade within the continent.
“Recent projects that have been announced include the reconstruction and modernisation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in a 25-year concession under a public-private partnership scheme. The project, approved in 2009, will reportedly cost more than NGN89 billion (USD600 million). In May 2009, the government also announced expansion plans for Abuja highways – with contracts awarded for the rehabilitation and construction of 34 federal highways” (http://www.janes.com).
The Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) operates two major rail lines in Nigeria: one links Lagos and Nguru, and the other linking Port Harcourt and Maiduguri. Interconnection is between Kaduna and Kafanchan. “The network received some attention in recent years but remains badly run down following decades of neglect. Political debate raged around the structure of the railway in the early 1990s, but little progress was made with the vital task of rehabilitating the railway’s assets until mid-1996. At this time, the Nigerian government approved funding for a substantial programme of track and signalling renewals and further restructuring of management, costed at NGN16.8 billion (USD110 million). Most of this work was contracted to China’s Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. Two-thirds of that sum had been made available by 2002. A 25-year plan for the modernisation of the sector was announced in October 2006. Phase one of the programme involves the modernisation of the key north to south line, from Kano to Lagos. Phase two concerns the Port Harcourt to Jos line, while phase three aims to connect every state capital to the rail network by 2021.In June 2009, it was announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved NGN114 billion (USD770 million) to purchase 25 C25 EMPD diesel-powered locomotives. Nigerian media also reported that the government is preparing to concession the railways system in 2010” (http://www.janes.com).
To deal with the deteriorating road infrastructure and its consequences, the Federal Government has resorted to infrastructure concession. “Generally, infrastructure concession allows participation of the private sector in financing the construction, development, operation and maintenance of public infrastructure, development project or network for a stated period. Common concession contracts include Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), Build, Own and Operate (BOO), Build, Transfer and Operate (BTO), lease contracts, etc. The concession process allows private investors and operators to inject much needed capital into upgrading and maintaining infrastructure” (www.nigerianmuse.com).
Ideas are not in short-supply in Nigeria. What is lacking seriously is the political will and leadership to see promising ideas through to their rightful conclusion.