Fashola blame paucity of funds for inability to fix roads
The Minister of Power Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola yesterday identified paucity of funds as a major challenge that militated against the implementation of the 2016 Budget.
Fashola stated this when he met with the Mr Tobi Okechukwu-led House committee on works to defend his ministry’s 2017 Budget proposal disclosed that there are about 200 projects on-going across the federation.
Flanked by officials of his ministry, he explained that N456b was appropriated for the three Ministries in 2016 of which N301,850b was appropriated for work on roads projects.
He said of the N301 billion appropriated in 2016, only N140 Billion was released, putting the budget performance on execution of capital project at 53 percent.
Saying payment certificates to the tune of N185 Billion was still outstanding, he remarked that there is need to re-categorize federal road so as to reduce the road burden on the federal government.
He explained that some roads with interstate links have been sandwiched by municipal and city development, hence have become intercity roads and streets, adding that such roads should be removed as federal roads and handed over to states to ease the burden on federal government.
Underlining government commitment to fix all federal roads, he remarked that there is no state in the country where one road project or the other is not on-going.
The Minister disclosed that plans were afoot to harmonise and standardize Road furniture in collaboration with Agencies like Federal Road Safety Commission FRSC to ensure that commuters to adequately informed about road situations through road signs.
“We need to standardize Road furniture. Where they exist, there is no uniformity. We need to standardise it, put village names, colour codes, standardise the quality of lettering and change quality of sign posts. FRSC is part of the planning and Abuja Lokoja highway will be a pilot project for the standardization of Road Furniture” Fashola said.
Fashola also called for a reduction in duration of contract processing, saying that six weeks is too long because road construction is a seasonal project and often contractors are caught up in the rains due to the delays experienced in the contract process just as he said that even when the process is quickly concluded, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) also take some time before contract certificates are issued to qualified contractors.
The minister equally told the House that despite the number of roads that needed attention in the country some roads were specially penciled down by President Buhari and were prioritized. Such Roads include the Lagos – Ibadan – Oshogbo – Ilorin road, Kano – Maiduguri road, Enugu – Porthacourt road as well as the second Niger bridge, assuring that roads captured in the 2016 budget but were not capitalized will get the needed attention before the life span of the budget expires as long as there is funding.
He said 2017 budget of the Works component was based on six priority areas that will focus on critical economic routes with heaviest traffic Adding that N150.4b or 52 percent of capital budget was proposed for such routes, while the second priority roads or agriculture producing hub would gulp N43b or 17.8 percent of the capital expenditure.