Reflecting On Dangote Refinery And Hell Awaiting Lekki Residents – By Tony Iyare

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Like many, I’m really excited at the gargantuan Dangote Refinery in Ibeju- Lekki, Lagos reputed as the second largest refinery project in the world.

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I share the great excitement of President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adeshina who recently visited the project with his team. Both in terms of its estimated production output and other value chain, it will not only save the country billions of foreign exchange spent on importation of fuel and other derivatives including fertilizer but also likely provide the pull factor for other industries.

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So I heartily congratulate Chairman of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote for this huge project. While others are ferreting capital out of the country to invest in things that hardly translate into any meaningful trickle down effects for our people, he has invested huge resources that offer the possibility of not only industrializing the country but creating massive jobs.

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Next door is the Lekki Deep Seaport that is also aimed at changing the face of maritime in our dear country. My biggest worry is where are the heavy duty trucks that are supposed to ferry supplies from the Dangote Refinery and the Lekki Deep Seaport to different parts of the country going to pass? Many do not appreciate that both projects could translate to six times the volume of cargo that are presently moved on the Apapa corridor with two ports that are referred to as river ports.

My heart therefore bleeds for the Lekki residents when I learnt that the two projects are expected to be operational later this year. If Apapa which has two major outlets, has been a hell for its residents and other commuters for many years now, one can only imagine the awry nature of commuting that confronts the Lekki residents who will ply only one road.

Virtually all the roads that are meant to serve as buffers are not even in the works, leaving only the Lagos-Lekki Expressway presently choked with traffic as the only route. The Fourth Mainland Bridge is still on the drawing board in spite of several promises.

The Lagos State Government has also been talking of a Coastal Highway and the expansion of the Lagos-Lekki Expressway from the Eleko junction to Epe, which are still in the works. The proposed monorail conceived to run between Marina and Lekki to ease the pains of commuting in that corridor is still on the books. Given our experience with the Okokomaiko-Marina monorail which is not yet completed after 13 years, Lekki residents may not even be hopeful of any reprieve in the immediate future.

I’m surprised that the government is silent on the single carriage way Eleko road itself which is now going to be traversed by huge traffic. The 1,400 kilometer Lagos-Calabar railway which ought to complement these huge projects is still far from any groundbreaking ceremony. A spur from this rail line at Ijebu Ode could have provided the elixir by linking Ibeju Lekki.

But Transport Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi seems to have predilection for rail lines that are like ox bow lakes which may not offer any help. Were both the Ibadan-Abuja or Itakpe-Abuja lines given priority ahead of Kano-Maradi in Niger Republic, they could also have provided some breather to the movement of the huge cargo from these projects.

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