By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the federal government will need as much as N1.7 trillion to complete about 206 road projects it awarded in the past.
Fashola however said the three ministries under him had only N433 billion earmarked for them in the 2016 budget.
He explained in this light that the ministry decided to phase the road projects and complete them over the next three years starting from high priority roads.
He said this at the weekend in Lagos when he spoke at the African Alliance’s 2016 Investor Day Dinner.
His remarks were however contained in a statement from his media aide, Mr. Hakeem Bello in Abuja.
According to Fashola, to overcome extant challenges in sustainable road infrastructure development, the government had upgraded the budget to finance infrastructure from 15 per cent which he said was the situation in the past to 30 per cent.
“This is the first step to sustainability. But it is not enough to budget. It is important to implement the budget and use the finances properly,” he said.
He stated: “Today, with about 206 road contracts already awarded in the past and not completed, it does not make sense to start any new roads when the amount needed to complete is about N1.7 trillion and the budget for the three ministries is N433 billion as proposed by the executive.”
He explained that the priority of his ministry was to finish as many already awarded roads as possible.
The minister also maintained that investors are invited to invest on new roads and alignments under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, saying this would enable the government finish as many roads as possible.
“The ministry planned in budget 2016 to depart from the practice of yesterday, of giving every road the same amount of money irrespective of whether it is just starting or nearing completion.
“The Ministry of Works was to get N268 billion, Power N99 billion and Housing N66 billion. So instead of splitting N268 billion over 206 roads in 2016 and not finishing any road, we plan to phase 206 roads over three years and ensure that we complete or substantially progress the completion of existing roads in each of the six geo-political zones,” Fashola explained.
He added: “We have prioritised the roads that get attention to those with the heaviest traffic and economic strategic significance; the roads that evacuate farm produce, airport cargo and passengers, seaport cargo and tank farm petroleum products.
“We are working on the final details of road sector reform legislation that strengthens maintenance capacity, accelerates the negotiations and approvals of road concessions and provides legislative support for tolling for recovery of investment and reforms the Federal Highways Act which is 60 years old.”