Fashola advocates increased budgetary allocation for infrastructural development
Minister, Lafarge seek sustainable solutions to road construction
Worried by the parlous state of infrastructure in the country, especially as it relates to road construction, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has described the budgetary allocation for the sector as insufficient and one that limits the nationís capacity for development.
Lamenting the plight of his ministry, Fashola stated that the budget for infrastructural demand was low and when approved, the funds were never fully disbursed.
Besides, Lafarge Africa Plc and other stakeholders have advocated sustained partnership among operators and government in developing sustainable solutions for infrastructural development in Nigeria, especially as it relates to road construction.
Fashola, while speaking during Lafargeís Road construction summit 2017 in Lagos, tagged ìThe economics of innovative solutions to road construction in Nigeria, explained that the induced growth reported by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was as a result of the N1.2 trillion the country spent on infrastructure in 2016 which he said was the highest spent recorded in the history of the country.
In works alone, we spent N198.3 billion. We need to double this amount if we have the capacity, because it is the sure way to achieve sustainable economic growth. We need to treble it if we can do so,î he added.The Minister however blamed the past administration for the economic recession, saying, ìThe last budget before the buhari-led administration was responsible for the economic recession. We budgeted N18 billion for all of Nigerian roads and N5 billion for power and N1.8 billion for housing for over a decade.
Nigerians have been calling on the federal government that less than 15 per cent of the nationís budget cannot meet the demand of the countryís infrastructure needs, but as if that under-budgeting was bad enough, the funding was even worse. Out of the N24.8 billion that was budgeted for the three sectors that I now superintend, less than half of it was released. That was the cooking pot for the recession. There is no growth if there is no spend.
Lafarge has sent a clear message that it wants to go far, because they are ready to go with the competition and this is commendable. Our infrastructure challenge is so big that only the federal government cannot handle it alone in terms of capacity demand and if our population projections are anything to go by, we will need every hand on deckî.
He noted that if research and innovations on how to make Nigerian roads durable and long lasting are being carried out by the private sector, it is therefore time for the federal government to up its game to enunciate programmes and policies that will enable those solutions to translate into positive development.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa Plc, Michel Puchercos, said road infrastructure in Nigeria as it stands today cannot adequately support and propel the Nigerian economy in the right direction, stressing that concerns have been expressed about the quality of roads, the maintenance culture, design and innovative construction solutions being deployed in the construction of roads in Nigeria.
He added that to further compound the situation, the federal governmentís dwindling revenues at the state and federal levels mean Nigeria must get creative in addressing road infrastructure challenges.“It is probably the time for a more aggressive public-private sector approach to road construction in Nigeria.
“It is a challenge for cement and concrete producers in Nigeria just as it is a challenge for contractors, consultants, financial institutions, development agencies and indeed, all road users. †We strongly believe in the need to bring the entire ecosystem together to discuss this all-important issue.”
The Chairman, Lafarge Africa Plc, Mobolaji Balogun, said†roads are at the core of infrastructural provision in any modern society, pointing out that beyond funding, Nigeria needs to critically examine its present approach to road construction and maintenance in Nigeria with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the lifespan of Nigerian roads are considerably higher than it is today.“Present day economic challenges require that we become far more creative in deploying human and material resources for road construction in Nigeria