Home Opinion The $1.35 billion Project Funding For Lagos

The $1.35 billion Project Funding For Lagos

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OPINION

By Etim Etim

It is gratifying that Lagos State government is forging ahead with the construction of the Fourth Mainland bridge by securing a $1.35 billion funding from the Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank) and Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets. The money will also be used to develop a creek and expand its light rail network. The Fourth Mainland bridge will cost $2.5 billion and would be constructed by a Portuguese company, Mota-Engil Group, and two Chinese ventures. The bridge would be built under a public-private partnership (PPP), meaning that the construction companies will bear part of the costs of the project. It is expected that motorists will pay tolls on the bridge from which parts of the loans would be recouped.

In addition, the state also plans to build an airport near Epe to serve the growing population in the Lekki axis. ‘’This investment will power our long-term infrastructure projects, demonstrating confidence from international and local partners in our growing economy’’, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced last night. The deal was signed by Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of AFREXIMBANK; Dr. Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive of Access Corporation (he also serves as the Executive Director of the bank) and Mr. Sanwo-Olu in Guyana where they were attending the Africa-Caribbean Summit.

Like all Lagosians, I am excited about the Fourth Mainland Bridge and I commend Lagos government and the managements of Access Bank and AFREXIM Bank for signing this partnership. The Bridge will be 38 km long, connecting Lagos Island (Langbasa in Lekki) to Itamaga in Ikorodu. It is a dual carriageway with provision for BRT (bus only lane) and future expansion. It is expected to become the longest bridge in Africa, featuring three toll plazas, nine interchanges, 4.5 km Lagoon Bridge and other added features. Construction will last four years. This bridge and the new airport will be a game changer in Lagos as they will help ease traffic congestions in the city, cut travel time and decongest the other airports in Ikeja. With a population of 20 million, Lagos is certainly living up to its expectation as the largest city in Africa. Currently, the longest bridge in the continent is Egypt’s 6th October Bridge, measuring 20.5 km.

Lagosians are also thrilled that the city’s rail project is progressing well. It consists of the Blue Line (Okokomaiko – Marina) which commenced operations in September and the Red Line (Agbado – Marina), the construction of which is ongoing. It is expected to commence operations next year. Both lines will carry over 20,000 passengers daily when fully operational. It goes without saying that these projects will undoubtedly stimulate the growth of the GDP of Lagos, estimated at $180 billion today, about half of Nigeria’s, and position it as a 21st megacity.

The involvement of Access Bank is not a surprise to many in the industry. With an asset base of over N30 trillion ($30 billion), the bank has become an infrastructure partner for at least 20 state governments in the last few years, focusing on providing funding for various projects and helping them augment their IGR. Beyond Lagos State, seven other states – mostly in the South West, South-South, North West and North Central and Abuja – would be benefitting from the funding partnerships between AFREXIM and Access Bank. Arranging huge fundings for state governments requires a bank with big muscles. With over 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 18 countries and with over 50 million customers, Access Bank is well positioned to meet the expectations of the states.

There is no doubt that the country urgently requires enormous investments in infrastructure due to the huge deficits in that area. Across the country, the road networks, bridges and other infrastructure projects have gone decrepit. While states like Lagos, Rivers and Akwa Ibom have been upgrading their facilities regularly, some states have fallen behind. Federal roads are particularly in a bad shape. I hope that the beneficiary states will use these funds to improve their roads and kudos to Access Bank for working with the various states in this direction.

I love to report on development news all the time and I hope to hear more of this.

Etim is a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja

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