States Grab World Bank Loan Facility For ‘Improved Access Roads’ Project
Rural access road infrastructure are important determinants of the success of a nation’s effort in diversifying her economic base, expanding trade and linking together resources and markets into an integrated economy. In this report, SALIFU USMAN takes a look at the haste of state governments, particularly the non-RAMP states, to benefit from $500m loan facility from the World Bank for road construction in rural areas
The provision of rural access transport and services helps in reducing poverty and it, therefore, needs no emphasis that various public actions aimed at reducing poverty cannot be successful without adequate access roads.
Perhaps, in appreciation of this and conscious of the fact Nigeria is grappling with road infrastructures long overdue for reconstruction, the Federal Government initiated the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP), with support from World Bank, French Development Agency and the African Development Bank.
Since the beginning of the World Bank intervention project in 2008 in Kaduna and Cross River states as ‘pilot’ projects, it has led to the construction and rehabilitation of 472 rural road networks and 135 ‘river crossings’ with additional 15 ‘river crossings’ on-going in Kaduna State, while in Cross River State, rehabilitation/construction of 474 rural road networks have been carried out. The road networks, culverts or crossings, have linked communities that were previously separated by river crossings. Other notable benefits of RAMP include digitisation and production of a road network map, showing location of all roads in the states where the projects are ongoing.
According to available statistics, RAMP2 states comprising Adamawa, Enugu, Niger and Osun have commenced implementation of about 200km-rural roads in each state, totaling 800km. The overall target of RAMP 2 is to construct 2000km of rural roads in the four states within a time-frame.
Spurred by the successes of the Kaduna and Cross River stories and those of other states, the huge interest which the projects have generated nation-wide, the urgent need to return the nation’s economy from its present state of oil-dependence to agricultural boom through increased farmers’ access to farm inputs and markets, reducing post-harvest losses, among others, the scaling up of the project to third phase with additional $500m loan facility from the World Bank for rural road constructions has set states scrambling.
According to experts, RAMP which includes maintenance, as a sustainability measure, would not only help to protect the huge investment on the roads, but also provides job opportunities for the people.
The national coordinator of the intervention project, Engr. Ularamu Ubandoma, disclosed that about 12 states would benefit from new $500m loan facility.
Speaking at the workshop organised by RAMP, Federal Project Monitoring Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in Abuja recently, to sensitise and select beneficiary states, Ubandoma said that the rural roads’ construction project was expected to increase farmers’ access to farm inputs and markets, thus reducing post-harvest losses, saying the loan was sourced in a way that participating state governments would pay five per cent counterpart funding, while the Federal Government would make-up 95 per cent refund.
“This RAMP project is something that will transform the lives of rural people. All the states of the Federation are qualified, especially non-RAMP states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but we are looking at the possibility of absorbing 10 to 12 states in this RAMP 3.
“That is the essence of this workshop; to discuss the selection criteria for participation, so that each state can go back and make final submission to the FPMU, which will now analyse it and submit to the World Bank,” he said.
Ubandoma explained that, considering the success recorded in RAMP 1 and 2 projects in Kaduna and Cross River states, respectively, more states have indicated their interests to partake in the RAMP 3, which would target the construction of about 5000km of rural roads and 200 river crossings, as well as planned maintenance to ensure sustainability of the investment in the selected states.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, who declared the workshop open, described the initiative as vital to achieving the Federal Government’s food sufficiency plan.
He said the nation’s population had been on the increase significantly, such that, by 2020, Nigeria’s population may hit 200 million and the role of rural farmers would be imperative to meet the population’s food demands.
“My position is predicated, not only on our day-to-day experiences as people who come from villages, but, also, from research and other empirical evidences carried out by our development partners. Available records suggest that about 70 per cent of the 193 million Nigerians whose only means of livelihood is agriculture reside in the rural areas. Out of this number, only less than half of them live less than 2km away from an all-season road,” he said.
Lokpobiri believed that the RAMP project had the capability to reduce poverty, post-harvest losses and rural- urban migration, just as he stressed that if the country must achieve a food-surplus ratio and export, concerted efforts would be made to support rural dwellers, especially in the area of road constructions and maintenance.
“This new trend of transformation in agriculture and rural development is in tandem with the spirit and principles of the present administration. We are convinced that, as more states embrace the RAMP intervention, we will achieve our plans towards building a nation that will not feed herself but, also, export to other parts of the world, in line with the agricultural export ‘zero reject’ initiative of this administration.
“We are encouraged that the RAMP, through its interventions in the RAMP 1 and RAMP 2, has made significant progress in improving rural transport infrastructure and the general economic and social well-being of the people in the participating states, thus changing the narratives in the affected states. Suffice it to say that Kaduna and Cross Rivers, where these projects had closed and a number of the RAMP 2 states like Adamawa, Niger, Osun have a total of about 1, 700km of well-engineered rural roads construction and maintained.
The World Bank representative, Mr. Tunji Ahmed, identified the need for state governments to partake in the project, as it helps to develop road infrastructure in most rural communities.
According to Ahmed, over 18 states would benefit from the project, which was why the World Bank was willing to roll-out the loan facility.
“If we dedicate more than half of the budget to the road, it is not too much, because more than half of Nigeria’s population lives in these areas and this same population contributes to the economy,” he added.