Lai Mohammed

FG approves N29.08bn for road, salt wall projects

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, approved N29,083,577,000 for projects in the Ministry of Works and Housing and Mines and Steel Development.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the weekly Council meeting chaired by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

According to Mohammed, N27.23bn and N1.85bn were approved to rehabilitate the 30km Idoani-Otuo Road and construct a 27km retaining wall for the Ebonyi Salt Lakes, respectively.

He said, “This is on behalf of the Honourable Minister of works and housing, who presented a memo for the approval of the award of contract for the rehabilitation of the 30-kilometre Idoani-Otuo Road, which links Ondo and Edo states and is close to Kogi State.

“The contract is for the sum of N27,233,577,000 and awarded to Mother Cat Limited and has a completion period of 36 months,” said Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of his counterpart in the Ministry of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola.

He explained that the 27km retaining wall would contain the loss of raw salt from the salt lakes in Ebonyi State, saving at least $88m spent yearly on salt importation.

Explaining further details about the project, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said it will be funded directly by the Presidency.

The project, he said, will not only save the country millions of dollars in foreign exchange but also bridge the local salt demand gap.

“We came to Council for approval, there’s a direct intervention by the President, for a salt project in Ebonyi State. We import our salts from abroad, spending something annually in the region of about $88m. Now this project, it will mitigate that, it will not satisfy local demand, but at least meet some of the local demand and save us the Forex.

“The salt is in Ebonyi State, of course, naturally, but it cannot be mined without this infrastructure that we’re about to do, we’re building a retaining wall because water comes in and washes the salt away every time. These are salt lakes that occur naturally, so the salt is in the lakes, but when water comes in, it washes the salt away.

“So, after the environmental impact analysis was done, the report suggested that we needed to build a retaining wall. This retaining wall is about 27 kilometres long and about 2.9 meters high. This is what we came to Council for, it’s being funded directly from the Presidency, it was awarded to Reinforced Global Resources Limited, at the sum of N1.85bn for the retaining wall. It was approved and the contract will go ahead. It will be achieved in six months,” he said.

He said the project became necessary because salts gotten from mining have a wide range of applications.

“We have that resource there in the Ebonyi State salt lakes. The salt oozes from under and it comes there when the water dries out. But when the rain comes, it washes the salt out, which is why we are putting this restraining wall now, so the salt cannot go out; we can mine it.

“This will be the first of its kind in Nigeria, it will, of course, replace all the money we spend, about $88m annually, on such important sault,” he explained.

Asked about when local salt mining in Ebonyi would begin, Adegbite said, “you have to do an environmental impact analysis before starting any mining project. It was that report that told us that we needed to do this retaining wall for us to be able to mine it. So, this retaining wall that has been approved today, the contractor has promised to deliver in six months. If he finishes the job, then we can go ahead and start the mining. We cannot start mining until the retaining wall is in place,” he said.

Physically present at the meeting are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari and Head of the Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan.

Other ministers physically present at the meeting included Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and Power, Abubakar Aliyu, among others. Other cabinet members participated virtually from their respective offices in Abuja.


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