Governor Dave Umahi yesterday, sought Presidential approval to obtain bank loans for the construction of some major roads in the state. The Governor stated this while speaking with journalists at the Presidential Villa, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.
This is just as the state is also seeking to partner with investors in the infrastructure sector on a Public Private Partnership arrangements as the government seeks to embark on massive development to fix the roads in exchange for a tolling arrangement.
He noted that a lot of incoming investments depend on the development of the major roads leading to sites where the state’s natural resources are domiciled. He lamented that the state has difficulty accessing most of the areas where the natural resources are located and assured that opening up the roads will create massive access to its natural resources.
“We have issues, the roads leading to these sites are Federal Roads, there are very difficult to access. So I came to ask Mr President for two things; some banks are willing to lend money to Ebonyi state to construct these roads and they want assurance from the Federal Government that when they lend us money to construct these roads the Federal Government will reimburse them.”
“There are some people or companies that want to do PPP with the state government on the development of these roads and they want a guarantee from the federal government that they will allow them to put toll gate so as to get back their funds.
He declared that Ebonyi, with vast farmlands is capable feeding the country with food, but noted that such can only be possible if access are created to allow evacuation of agricultural produce
“Ebonyi state has a lot of farmlands that supports agricultural production including rice and cassava, I think we are still the largest producers of cassava in Nigeria. These roads also lead to these large farmlands. Presently we have five gigantic modern rice mills producing quiet a lot of rice, but we need more encouragement in order to produce more rice” .
“We have solutions to the problems in the nation, in the area of agriculture, mineral resources like cement, lead, zinc, copper and coal. We also have a large deposit of salt. A lot of investors, when they heard of the patronage that the President intends to give to local production of these items, they beseeched Ebonyi state, they want to invest in these areas” There were however no assurances from the President, as Umahi said due process and proceedings still needed to be followed. He added the state would go ahead to work on the design of the road with the approval of the President and a nod for the loan.