“We have allotted over 800 road contracts” – Minister

By Timothy Choji, Abuja

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The Nigerian government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has so far issued over 800 road contracts across the country.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made the disclosure on Thursday at the weekly media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team.

He said the move by the government was aimed at addressing the problem of decayed road infrastructure it met on assumption of office.

According to him: “It is 800 contracts not 800 projects and the number of contracts are growing; just yesterday, I briefed about five different roads each one of them is a contract.

“Sometimes within a road you can have multiple contracts. For instance, Kano-Maiduguri highway is 560 kilometers so there are five different contractors there and each one has a unique contract. The same thing for Lagos-Ibadan highway, there are two contracts there, Enugu-Portharcourt has five contracts there. Each one has a designated supervising project officer and so on. So in that sense, we have 800 plus contracts.”

He said the work done consists of highway bridges, covering a distance of over 13, 000 kilometers.

The Minister said based on the 2015 budget which the current administration met, the sum of N18billion was allocated for roads construction but that had since been increased significantly.

He said: “The budget for roads in Nigeria in 2015 that we inherited was N18 billion for all Nigerian roads. 2015 was also the year that I left office as Governor of Lagos so the budget for Lagos State roads for that year was about N70 billion and it was not enough so I don’t see how 18 would have been enough for the whole of Nigeria.

“But the first roads budget for the Buhari administration was N260 billion the next, N240 billion, next N356 billion then we have come down to N233, N237 and so on and so forth. We are doing a lot more with fewer resources.”

Construction of secretariats
The Minister, who used the occasion to highlight what his Ministry has done in the past six years, disclosed that his ministry is also constructing six new federal secretariats arising from the creation of new states where assets were separated.

“The ones in Anambra and Zamfara are the most likely to be finished this year. The one in Nasarawa and Bayelsa will probably run into next year while Ekiti is in the race to finish next year,” headed.

Housing
On housing, the Minister said already there are various housing projects spread across 34 States.

Road rehabilitation
He added that the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is currently rehabilitating about 13, 000 kilometers of road in various parts of the country.

“FERMA, our maintenance agency, is already acting on over 5000 kilometers of road and 8000 kilometers of highway maintenance which is part of job creation as well,” he said.

The Works and Housing Minister also stated that the administration has been able to confront roads that he tagged as stubborn, which are now being used by Nigerians.

“We have been able to execute some of Nigeria’s most difficult projects that have defied solution from previous administrations and one of them is the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan expressway, which has been there for long since 1999 and it was under this administration that construction started and I say that emphatically. Before that it was maintenance but we are nearing completion now.

“Bodo Bonny was awarded three times unsuccessfully but this is the first time that actual construction is now going on; one bridge has been finished, second one is in progress and several kilometers of road network are already being constructed.

“And of course the 2nd Niger Bridge has been in the news for a long time especially during election campaign period but now all of the structures, piles, everything is complete now it’s just to finish the deck and the link road to Owerri. Abuja-Kano-Kaduna highway was last acted upon in 1991; it was awarded I think in 1985 by the Babangida administration and since 1991 no action has been taken there but we are working on that now. Then who can forget the Apapa-Oworonshoki expressway where many containers had fallen down killing people and damaging properties in the process. Since 1975 when it was completed, nothing of substance has been done but now we have a final solution because it is now being fully reconstructed with concrete and 29 out of 35 kilometers have been completed,” Fashola said.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

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