By Ignatius Okorocha
The Federal Government is currently owing construction firms handling 711 road projects across the country N392 billion, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has said.
The Minster explained that the N392 billion debt is far higher than the N276 billion, proposed as budgetary allocation for road projects in 202.
Consequently, Fashola who stated in Abuja during budget defence session before the Senate Committee on Works, said “with the situation on ground, a stop has come for new projects and need for prioritizing of existing ones towards achieving completion of some of them”.
According to him, the sum of N6.62 trillion is needed by the government for funding the 711 road projects across the country but resources for that are not available now which makes prioritizing very important.
“We do not have the resources that we need to fix our road infrastructure at once, the very reason why we need to prioritize what want to do.
“The situation on ground requires us to cut our coat according to our cloth and not according to our size because no good will come out of more new road projects now”, he said .
He however explained to the committee that in order to remedy the situation, the 711 projects have been categorized into four different areas of funding and execution.
The first of such categorization he said is the Highway Projects Financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund ( PIDF) which covers projects such as Lagos – Shagamu – Ibadan dual carriage way, 2nd Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja – Kaduna – Kano dual carriage way.
The second according to the Minister, are Highways Projects Financed with the Sovereign Sukuk Fund totalling 44 roads across the six geo- political zones.
Third are Highways Project Financed under Tax Credit some which are Lokoja- Obajana – Kabba – Ilorin road, Apapa – Wharf Road in Lagos State, Apapa – Oworonsoki – Ojota Expressway etc .
Those in the fourth category he stated further, are Highways Projects funded from Multilateral Loans.
He specifically informed the Federal lawmakers that the Ministry has given priority to 18 roads/bridges projects that have already attained some appreciable physical achievement for completion within a 12 -15 months period ( December 2021) .
When the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero suggested to the Minister, the need to look at the fund in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), to fund some of the road projects, he said he was not in a position to do that.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seems to be in the best position to work out such arrangement.
“It will be helpful if that type of funding can be put together “, he said