The Commissioner of Works, Housing and Transport, Nasarawa state, Chief Philip Dada, has assured that the current administration of Governor Abdullahi Sule, is poised to complete the various projects it inherited from the previous administration in the state. In this interview with Francis Nansak, in Lafia, the state capital, Dada spoke about the current status of those projects, and how much the state government has so far spent to ensure their completion. Excerpts
May we know how the current administration is handling the projects it inherited from the previous administration in the state?
Thank you very much. Let me first welcome you to my office. As you know, government is a continuum. The projects we inherited from the previous administration are projects that were conceived based on value addition and better living standards for citizens of Nasarawa state. His Excellency, the governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has made a policy statement that he will endeavour to complete all ongoing projects inherited from the previous administration. And I believe he has kept fate and is focused in ensuring that those projects are completed. He is taking them one at a time because of the financial constraints in the state, which of course, is not peculiar to Nasarawa state.
What is the level of work at the Lafia Airport project?
The Airport project which is one of the inherited projects comprised of quite a number of contracts. There is a contract for the construction of the runway, which is a critical infrastructure at the airport facility development; there are also construction works for the terminal building and navigational aids facility. And there is also the construction of control tower, construction of the fire service outfit, the construction of road networks at the airport which is ongoing. Fencing of the airport is another critical need to prevent animals from gaining access into the airport premises thereby constituting danger on both onboard passengers and the installations. And all these works are being taken care of and are going on smoothly at an appreciative speed.
The terminal building is 85% completed. The 2.2kilometer run way is 90% completed; fire service building is also 90% completed, and the service roads around the airport is about 80% completed.
We have the metal grill fence within the runway and the airport environment which also is about 70% completed. These are what I called critical infrastructure the governor inherited from the previous administration, and he has been able to take them to higher levels since he came on board.
So there is no going back on the project; the government is committed to it in spite of the difficulty of funding.
The governor sees the project as a priority project which must be completed because he sees it as one that will boost the economy of the state. The airport project holds the key to the development of several sectors of the state economy, especially agriculture, mining and tourism. The governor sees all the ongoing projects in that light, and has continued to pay attention to them.
This is certainly cheerful news for the people of Nasarawa state. Is there any likelihood that the airport project will be completed on time?
Of course, the various construction works going on at the airport which I had earlier mentioned are not the totality of the works that will be required to make the airport functional. You know the airspace is yet to be opened, but we are still making arrangements in that direction. However, the airport could be opened to certain category of aircraft to fly in certain category of persons. As you know, part of the work include getting permission from the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) as well as NCCA, who will have to come here and set up the place with additional aids and provide guidance and security for the smooth landing of aircraft. There are still some facilities that will really make the airport fully functional and as we go on in this, aeronautic contractors will advise us on what next to consider.
But we are hopeful that when FAAN, NCCA give us the approval, the airport will be fully functional. So until that is done, it will be difficult to say this is when the airport will become operational.
Away from the airport project, what is government doing about roads that were newly flagged off at Doma, Samba and other communities?
You know the governor is a very meticulous person. If you have observed him closely, he is somebody who wants to play by the rules, particularly when it has to do with expenditures. He wants to make sure that due processes of financial management are brought to bear, and if he has made a commitment to that, I assure you that he is going to remain focused.
But he will equally not do it outside the context of the budget. So I believe that having made that commitment, he is somebody who stands by his words. He is such a person that once he says he will do a thing, he finds a way of doing it. I am sure that in the ambit of the budget, perhaps not this year, because I haven’t seen it included in my ministry’s budget of this year. One thing you should know is that infrastructural development is not like supplies where you present an LPO for the purchase of a television set, and you go to the market and get it. No! A lot of processes are involved in construction work.
Still on road construction, this administration has flagged off the construction of some roads in the state, and one may want to know the level of construction work on those roads?
The road construction at Sisimbaki which was flagged-off sometime between September or October last year is ongoing and going on fine. The clearing of the road by the contractor has reached Kwarra a 5- kilometer road. The work on the box culverts are going on fine too and the people are very excited about it. I have been there twice; the first visit was a courtesy call on the Paramount ruler, the Gom mama, to solicit their cooperation with the contractor so that they will not see the road project as an avenue for financial compensation from the government. Rather, they should see it as an infrastructure meant to improve their living standard; ease the movement of goods that have potentials of boost economic activities in the area.
Lastly, what is the government plan through your ministry to reactivate the transport sector, as well as ensure better housing for civil servants to cushion the effects of housing deficits?
Thank you for that question. The ministry is standing on a tripod -Works, Housing and Transport. And we give equal attention to each tripod. We may be more visible on road infrastructure, but our mandate includes also the reactivation of intercity transport, which of course, is domiciled in this ministry. Our mandate includes also the creation of 2000 housing units for citizens of Nasarawa state. This has led us to having series of meetings to actualize these objectives. We have designed a transport system that we want introduced in Nasarawa state. We have earmarked all the routes that we want this transport system to undertake, and certain infrastructure is already being put in place to enhance that.
For example, the flag-off of construction of a mega bus terminal at karu, which is part of the reforms in the transport system to bring sanity in that direction in the state, and if you understood the governor’s speech on that day of the flag-off, there is going to be one at Lafia, one at Akwanga and one at Keffi.
So we are making arrangement to get investors who will come in because the capital outlay is huge, and the governor has said the private sector will drive the economic activities in Nasarawa state. So, we have gotten so many proposals in this regard from people who are interested to start transport business in the state.