Thursday, 26th May 2022
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

Govt reviews highways’ Act as court voids Lagos -Ibadan road funding

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
25 January 2016   |   5:23 am
THE Federal authorities have gone back to the drawing board to fashion out new ways to ensure sustainable public private partnership in infrastructure provision, especially in road concessions. Under the new development, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has commenced an internal review of some laws and the Federal Highways Act, with a view to…
 Photo credit Lifeofofo.

Photo credit Lifeofofo.

THE Federal authorities have gone back to the drawing board to fashion out new ways to ensure sustainable public private partnership in infrastructure provision, especially in road concessions.

Under the new development, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has commenced an internal review of some laws and the Federal Highways Act, with a view to making recommendations to the Ministry of Justice to consider and effect some changes.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who made the disclosure at the Nigerian Pension Industry Strategy Implementation Roadmap Retreat, last week, said the legal regime for regulation of privatization of public assets needs some reform.

He said: “As far as privatization and concession of public assets is concerned, it will require the immense skills of very experienced legal practitioners to carefully navigate through the provision of at least five general laws in order to be able to give sound advice to any investor who seeks advice.”

For instance, current review shows that: “The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act (ICRC) does not contain a ‘saving provision’ with regard to other existing legislation. This means that the law is subject to other legislations that relate to concessions.”

Secondly, the law makes no clear provision for the commission with regard to the approval process for PPP projects and the authority to grant a concession. This is obvious from the provisions of section 20 (a) – (d) of the Act which seems to vest the Commission with ‘monitoring’ and ‘advisory’ responsibilities rather than regulatory.

Thirdly, the Act also does not make provision for alternative dispute resolution, which is a more efficient platform for resolving commercial disputes in contra-distinction from regular courts.

He stressed that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a story of what investors don’t like as the federal government granted concession to a private company and later withdrew and cancelled it. “These two companies are Nigerian companies investing in Nigeria, which is a positive sign because the local investors are the most important to any economy.”

According to Fashola, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been caught up in two court cases in which an order has been made cancelling a financing agreement to fund contractors.

“The effect is that contractors are not paid, work has stopped, almost 2,000 workers (bread winners of their families) have been laid off and we don’t have a completed road, especially such a critical economic highway that is the evacuation and supply artery for our ports and oil tank farms for goods and petroleum products from the South to the other parts of Nigeria,” he said.

The minister recommended that pension fund venture into funding housing construction to address supply. He said the preliminary data on the commissioned study on Housing Economies and impact shows that housing provides employment for a great number of the population. For instance, one block of 12 flats will require about 93 workers multiplied by 40 Blocks amounting to 3,720 workers.

Until recently, he said, the Nigerian Pension Fund Law limited the contributor from using part of his pension to secure a mortgage. Happily, he said, the Amendment Act of 2014, has rectified this by the provision of Section 89 (2) of the Act.