Chineme OkaforÂ in AbujaÂ
The Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday stated that so far, the federal government has spent about N260 billion out of the N300 billion it budgeted for Nigeriaâ€™s road infrastructure.
Speaking at the fourth quadrennial delegates conference of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in Abuja, Fashola stated that this financial expenditure has helped the government fix and build roads across the country.
A text of his speech at the conference was sent to THISDAY by his senior advisor on communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello.
The minister claimed that tanker drivers who run on roads across the country could testify to his claims of the countryâ€™s road network being improved on by the government.
He also said the government had in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) identified energy sufficiency and infrastructure development as critical action points to pursue.
â€œThese action points are not accidental; on the contrary, they reveal a clear thinking and understanding of what must be done to rebuild our economy and underline the interconnectivity between availability of quality infrastructure and the delivery of energy from petroleum products to drive our economy.
â€œBut it is one thing to have a plan, and yet another thing to commit to a faithful implementation of that plan.Â If you think this is not important, let me remind you that in 2015, onlyÂ N18 billionÂ was budgeted for all Nigerian roads in the Ministry of Works. OnlyÂ N9 billionÂ was funded at the time, when Nigeriaâ€™s oil was selling at close to $100 per barrel.
â€œWhat has changed under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is that the Buhari government has committed close toÂ N300 billionÂ to roads, and funded aboutÂ N260 billionÂ at a time when oil prices are manifestly below the 2015 figures,â€ said Fashola.
Speaking on the impacts of the investment on the road sector, he said: â€œSo, if people ask you what change means, please tell them it means doing more with less.
â€œWhat are the results of this change?Â The results mean reduced journey times on the sections of roads where work has now resumed.
â€œThose of you who ply Ilorin-Jebba will now admit that from spending seven days on that road, you now spend less time while works are rapidly progressing, not only on the road but also in the emergency repairs on the Tatabu Bridge, which suddenly collapsed as a result of massive rainfall, flooding, and lack of maintenance.â€
â€œThose of you who ply the Suleja-Minna highway where there are strategic NNPC depots at Minna and the PPMC depot at Diko, will now acknowledge that the contractor is back to work.
â€œI must, of course, acknowledge the support we have received from the Niger State government, and the impact of the Sukuk, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, wholesomely supported by Mr. President.
â€œThose of you who take products from the NNPC depot at Gusau will acknowledge that our contractor is now back to work after years of absence due to lack of payment for work done on the Zaria-Gusau-Sokoto Road,â€ he added.
The minister also noted that work on roads such as theÂ Ibadan-Abeokuta Highway,Â Enugu-Abakaliki and Kaduna-Jos Roads have progressed .
â€œSo, if they ask you what change means to tanker drivers, please tell them that it means the revival of construction works and the return of contractors to access roads to petroleum depots, from which you do business and support your families.
“Tell them that your journey times on these roads is gradually improving and the presence of contractors at the work site gives you hope that it will get better,â€ he noted.