The Federal Government of Nigeria Wednesday reaffirmed commitment towards the development of the country’s road infrastructure. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the First African Regional Congress of the International Road Federation (IRF) with the theme: ‘Harnessing Africa’s Transportation Potential: The Role of the Stakeholder’, in Abuja, Vice President, Arc. Mohammed NamadiSambo said government would address the funding gap through enhanced government investment as well as participation of private sector and multi-lateral development institutions.
He said, “government is putting in place best practices to drive public-private sector partnership (PPP) in the sector’s development and all other areas. “The gains of improved and sustained government investment in the road sector are evidently manifesting nationwide’ adding that ‘a good and well maintained road network is the bedrock of an efficient road transportation sector which in itself is the engine which drives the economies of nations.”
Sambo commended the active role of the IRF in advocacy and influencing policy formulation in member-countries over the years expressing the hope that the regional congress will be an avenue of addressing the challenges hindering the full development of the road sector especially in Africa, saying, “Africa stands to benefit from a robust road network expansion and maintenance programme through enhanced cross-border trade and freer movement.”
Earlier, the President of the IRS, Patrick Sankey said that the IRF is a non-profit and non-political organization with a mission to encourage and promote global development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads, road networks and road policies.
He said that, “sixty six years after the formulation of the IRF, the First Africa Regional Congress of the body is holding in Abuja, Nigeria. The Abuja regional conference is designed to provide a forum to analyze different facets of road transportation supply and provision in Africa and also provide a platform for stakeholders in the transportation sector to share best practices and formulate goal driven policies that will improve transportation infrastructure in the continent and beyond.”
The Minister of Works, Arc.Mike Onolememen appreciated the goodwill and support of President Jonathan towards making the hosting of the first Africa Congress in Nigeria possible. He said the presence of President Jonathan represented by Vice President Sambo to declare the conference open at very short notice wasindicative of the commitment of this administration to the development of our nation’s roads and other key national infrastructure.
He commended the impressive attendance of delegates at the congress noting that it “is a testament that the world wide community takes the issue of roads development very seriously.” The congress was attended by delegates from over 26 nations including America, United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, Asia, Malaysia, India, United Arab Emirate, South Africa, Uganda, Sudan Kenya, Cameroon and other parts of Africa. In attendance were the Minister, National Planning Commission, Bashir Yuguda as well as chief executives and directors of agencies and parastatals.