FASHOLA: N157b Works Budget insufficient to pay for completed Roads
Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola on Thursday painted a bleak picture of Nigerian roads.
He told the House of Representatives Committee on Works that the N157 billion allocated to his ministry cannot offset outstanding debts.
The minister said the amount of unpaid certificates for completed road projects was N306 billion, while N2.93 billion was pending in unpaid certificates under the multilateral-funded projects.
Fashola said the Federal Government will no longer make refund to states who repair federal roads, stressing that states are expected to concentrate on state-funded roads.
“When we came in, we inherited quite a number of such debts from states which repaired Federal roads and asked for refunds. The President directed that we pay all those that were approved by the previous government.
“He also directed that states should concentrate on their own roads and that states can only get involved in Federal roads, if they are repairing them and not coming to ask for refund,” he said.
The minister said the Federal Government had about 524 ongoing road projects across the country, with four multilateral-funded road projects, 81 roads under the Presidential Infrastructural Development Fund (PIDF) and 45 others being funded under the Sukuk bond.
Fashola said N255 billion was required to fund some of the major roads, adding that the ministry was focusing on roads that help to open up the economy and make the ease of doing business less cumbersome.
The minister listed some of the projects under the PIDF to include the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan road, the Mambilla Hydro project and the East-West road.
He stressed that the projects were not under his ministry.
Listing the Third Mainland bridge in Lagos as the busiest road in the country, Fashola noted that for the first time in 10 years, the Works and Housing Ministry undertook a daily traffic count in the country.
According to him, the result of the count gives credence to the argument that toll plaza should be returned to Nigerian roads.
On private sector involvement in funding road projects across the country, Fashola said the Sukuk project was a private intervention as well as the PIDF project through the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
But the minister frowned at the politicising of such intervention.
Responding to questions, he said majority of the road projects undertaken by the ministry came from members of the National Assembly.
He said: “We are talking about the lack of capacity to complete ongoing projects and many of you are asking for more projects.
“You can bring in the project and we will do all we can to undertake them. But you must bear in mind that we don’t have the required capacity and our manpower is not increasing.”
On the slow pace of work on the Abuja-Kano road project being handled by Julius Berger and why the ministry did not consider spreading the contract among several contractors, Fashola said he expected that the contractors would deliver the project on time.