By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Federal Capital Territory Minister Mohammed Musa Bello weekend said vandals stole and damaged facilitiesÂ on four roads in Abuja, with theÂ cost of replacement putÂ at N5 billion.
He made this revelation atÂ a stakeholder conference on the Protection, Preservation and Community Ownership of Public Assets and Critical Infrastructure, organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
The minister,Â who was represented by Director of Engineering, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Shehu Ahmad Hadi,Â deplores the apathy of theÂ publicÂ towards public assets. He said the attitude had emboldened the hoodlums.
The minister said the FCT Administration was willing to collaborate with the NOA to curb the act through enlightenment campaign.
The mainly affected roads areÂ Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX), Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX), Inner Southern Expressway (ISEX) as well as the Circular Road among others.
Some of the assets vandalised on the major roads include manhole covers, bridge railings, railway communication ducts, traffic lights, CCTV cameras and electrical cables.
Bello said vandalism of critical public infrastructure was posing a huge burden to traffic and security in the territory.
He said that funds that could otherwise be used in providing new facilities in new districts were being used to replace the vandalised or stolen ones.
â€œIt is always saddening to witness incidents ofÂ pillage of major components of public infrastructure. These hoodlums sometimes dig deep into the ground to unearth armoured cables and puncture water pipelines to irrigate their farms or set up car wash centres.â€
He disclosed that in the short run, security and surveillance had been intensified around public assets and critical infrastructure in the FCT to apprehend and prosecute the hoodlums.
In addition, the Administration is replacing the vandalised facilities with configurations that could not easily yield to hit.
Â Director General NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, said the widespread nature of vandalism of national assets necessitated stakeholders to assemble in search for solutions to the menace.