Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has avowed the existence of a clear and workable plan being implemented for his ministry, but noted that the extent of implementation of the plan depended on the amount of resources available.
Noting the accumulated debts, liabilities and limited resources, Fashola, in an x-ray of activities of the ministry over the past one year, stated that 206 road projects, 100 transmission projects were inherited from the past administration.
As regards activities of the Works ministry, Fashola bemoaned that the N260 billion approval for the ministry in the 2016 budget was minimal compared to the liabilities of about N1.5 trillion that were outstanding to contractors.
He listed some priority road projects to include that of Port Harcourt – Aba Road, Sokoto-Tambuwal – Makera-Kontagara Road, Ogbomosho-Oko-Ilogbo-Osogbo Road, Shagamu- Ibadan, Ilorin-Jebba Road, Ogbomosho-Oko-Ilogbo-Osogbo Road, Abuja–Lokoja–Airport, Ikot Ekpene Border- Aba–Owerri dualisation.
Fashola, who prayed that the National Assembly approved more money for the ministry, revealed that the ministry had developed a three-year plan to build 42 bridges to the tune of N277 billion.
“Although the Works ministry’s share of the 2016 appropriation was N260 Billion, which was a lot more than the 2015 budget of only N18 Billion that the last administration left, it is a drop in the ocean against the liabilities that were outstanding to contractors.”
“Our interactions with contractors showed that many of them had not been paid for an average of two to three years before we resumed, and this explained the stoppage of work by the contractors, the lay-off of workers, and consequently, poor condition of many roads.”
“How far we go, how much we get and how much we can do, now depends on how much money the country can get and how much she gets approval to spend.
“With limited resources against liabilities, with debts already owed, we had to make difficult choices of deciding which of the 206 roads under contract we should start with, and how many. Our choices were informed by the realities of our economy and the size of our resources.
“How much we can then deliver will be defined by the size of our resources and our ambition, and not by the absence of a workable plan,” he said.
On the situation in the power sector, Fashola said the indebtedness of the ministry to some contractors resulted in the abandonment of over 800 containers and hindered the completion of transmission projects.
Amid the gloom, Fashola said the power situation was bound to improve with the disbursement of the 2016 budget sum of N24 billion to contractors handling different power projects.
He lampooned notions that the nation’s power grid was static at 5,000Mega Watts(MW), hinting of the rounding off of power projects to include the 215 MW Kaduna Power, 40 MW Kashimbilla Power (Hydro), 40 MW Gurara I Power (Hydro), 29 MW Dadin Kowa Power (Hydro), 10 MW Katsina Power (Wind) 1,125 MW (14 Solar projects) and the 240 MW Emergency Power Project for Afam (Gas).
To improve the power situation, Fashola said the ministry was set to introduce the rural electrification implementation programme aimed at improving access to power for rural communities.
The intervention, he added, included the use of small hydro dams in rural areas to support agriculture and agro processing to provide power.
“We are working with the generation companies to increase their power generation capacity through repairs and maintenance.
“Egbin has restored all its turbines even though it has suffered a gas outage as a result of vandalism.”
“Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro have increased the number of functional turbines, so they are producing 300 MW extra power during this year’s rainy season.”