Wike faults FG’s ban on rehabilitation of federal roads by states
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has declared that the Federal Government’s directive banning state governments from funding the construction or rehabilitation of failed federal roads will impede effective development.
He advised the Federal Government to include the East-West Road among the critical infrastructure projects being funded from Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
He spoke at the 26th meeting of the National Council on Works in Port Harcourt yesterday.
Governor Wike said the theme of the meeting: Infrastructure Development, Jobs Creation and National Economic Growth, fitted the generally held view that road infrastructure was crucial in enabling economic development, poverty reduction, and inclusive progress.
He pointed out that the East-West Road, which remained important to the economic prosperity of the South-South region and the entire country has been under construction for over 15 years, yet a completion date was still not in sight.
He urged Federal Government to urgently consider funding the East-West Road from the Sovereign Wealth Fund to guarantee its completion by 2022, as being suggested by the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
Wike pointed out that the Federal Government appeared to be presently overwhelmed by the construction of several road projects across the country and suggested that it would have been better to complete most of the on-going roads before embarking on new ones.
He admonished the Federal Government to reconsider its stopping of state governments from funding the construction or rehabilitation of failed federal roads, insisting that the directive would upset economic growth in the affected states and challenge the wellbeing of Nigerians.
On his part, Minister of Work and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the importance of human mobility to the health of any economy with the urban poor appearing to be worse hit by the lockdowns.
He said part of measures the Federal Government adopted to begin economic recovery processes was to focus on agriculture and resumption of construction work in 26 states of the federation.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Adamu Aliero, who advocated the setting up of infrastructure bank as an alternative source of funding of federal road projects, said it had become difficult for the Federal Government to fund the 711 roads captured in the federal budget.
Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Edoka Tasie-Amadi, noted that it had become more imperative for present generation to plan for the future with a view to ending the perennial road infrastructure deficit.
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