Senators’ petitions, delaying execution of road projects ― Fashola

• Says road budget in deficit of over N100bn

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has put the blame of delayed execution of road projects in the country on petitions by senators in the National Assembly.

Fashola who appeared before the Senate committee on works to defend the ministry’s budget told senators that while the nation does not have the resources to fund the entire road projects, those that have funds available for their execution were frustrated by petitions by senator and counter directive by the Presidency. directives.

“This directive came as a result of the petitions from senators to the President. That was how it started. All of those letters are available and on the basis of that, we got directive to change the scope, I will furnish you with them,” The minister stated.

Fashola said it was time for the lawmakers in the national assembly to come together in unison and agree that the road projects should be prioritised and completed instead of taking on new roads when the existing road projects are not completed.

Fashola’s position to the Senate followed interrogation by the Senators on the reasons for the many slow paces in road construction in the country.

Members of the Senate Committee on works had taken a turn to ask the minister in the slow pace of work on roads on their respective states and areas prompting the minister to respond to the senators on the need to prioritise projects for national development even as he fingered them in the delay of the Abuja-Kaduna road.

His words: “Specifically on the road that has four lanes that are not progressing as appreciable as perhaps expected, let us first remember that was the last to be awarded of the three roads.

“So it would not run at the same speed. Lagos, Ibadan was awarded before this administration came 2nd Niger bridge was also awarded before this administration came.

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“Funding it was our priority, it was after all of that that we awarded Abuja to Kano so they will not run at the same speed.

“What I will point out to you sir is that immediately we awarded that contract for Abuja – Kano road members of the National Assembly wrote to the President that the scope of the contract should be changed from two lanes to three lanes.

“Once the contractor started, that letter was written, we got a directive from the President to change it from two lanes to three lanes. We couldn’t change it to three lanes without doing a new design.

“To procure a design you have to go through advertisement, that is the procurement law, evaluation, BPP, no objection, then we move to FEC that took almost a year.

“When FEC approved the 3 X 3 lane the contractor started work and the job consultant was at 95 per cent complete, then we got counter instructions, “go back to 2 X 2” unfortunately, these men and women here cannot come out every day to say, see what happened. So those who are complaining of delay would have to factor this now.

Giving further explanation on why it was impossible to make appreciable progress on road construction nationwide Fashola said paucity of funds was a good reason to decide on the most important roads that would connect more areas to deliver on goods and services.

He pointed out that the budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year on the highway for road construction is N276bn while the ministry is indebted to about N392bn on jobs already executed.

He pointed out that this has placed the budget in a deficit if N116bn.

“If our revenues as a family are increasing on daily basis and we are not committed to our capacity to even solve the roads we have committed to would be diminished and we will become poorer.

“Until we complete a road and make it accessible to the public and can it create productivity and gain? Even the roads that bring raw materials to the site, how are they, they are not special roads.

He cited an example of a road project with a cost of N19bn but had less than N1bn allocation for its construction in the 2020 budget and was later reviewed over the impact of COVID-19.

“Kwunya -Bagura road, the contract is N19bn, appropriation in 2020 is N535m and by the time we had to do the COVID-19 amendments but went to N321m.

“What was not enough was further reduced, let us put ourselves in the shoes of these contractors who mobilize to site in those circumstances. On the cost of mobilisation, the acquire sites, they pay for the sites because they rent it set up water treatment plant, power plant hire security, that is the money going out when he is not sure of the money coming back in

“It is time for us to start to say, we have seven contracts, we need to prioritize, which of these roads serve our best interest. Let us start to complete somethings,” Fashola stated.

The Minister counselled the senators to allow for a special funding pattern under the SUKUK to be captured under a special heading for the purpose of accounting while the availability of cash which he said is about N600bn could be deployed to road construction.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

 

 

 

Senators’ petitions, delaying execution of road projects ― Fashola

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