At least, four states in Nigeria the State of Osun, may soon witness construction of their hinter roads, as both the World Bank and French Development Agency (FDA) have concluded plans to inject about $230million into the projects.
Mostly importantly, the intervention is to ease transportation of agricultural produce in the rural areas within the four states of the federation.
Under the partnership agreement, while the World Bank is providing $170million, $60million, as each state government is expected to counter-fund to the projects to the tune of $12.7million.
Coming under RAMPII project, it was said that it would involve the construction and rehabilitation of 500km of rural roads, including earth roads and the construction, and rehabilitation of about 65 rivers crossing in each of the four states.
Representative of the French Development Agency, Mr. Federic Minaret, pointed out that that the project would be maintained by the community, noting that the road maintenance schemes would involve local population in the design and operation of maintenance works, thus creating employment opportunities for men and women living along the rehabilitated roads.
He said, “Special emphasis would be placed on the sustainability of the road investments through adequate maintenance, in partnership with the states”.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in his keynote address, maintained that rural access was critical, as it remains the missing link between the urban and the rural areas where majority of the population who are predominantly farmers reside.
He regretted that poor access roads in the rural areas has resulted in low farm-gate prices, post harvest losses put at 15-20 percent annually and lack of access to other socio economic infrastructure which increases unemployment and rural poverty.
“This situation is unacceptable to us, let me reiterate here that for the full benefits of our programs to reach the majority of the poor farmers, we must fix the rural roads, even though, this not as easy as we say it”. He maintained.
Speaking through the Director Rural Development, Mr. Musibow Azeez, the minister appealed to Osun and other benefiting states to set aside 5-20 percent of the total project cost towards the sustainable maintenance of the roads to be constructed.
The National Project Coordinator, (RAMP II) Ubandoma Ularamu, an engineer, affirmed that all the participating states have paid their counterpart fund.