Fashola: We’ve Spent N260bn Budgeted for Roads So Far

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Thursday stated that so far, the federal government has spent about N260 billion out of the N300 billion it budgeted for Nigeria’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 the financial expenditure has helped the government to fix and build roads across the country.

A text of his speech at the conference was sent to THISDAY by his Senior Adviser on communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello.

He claimed that tanker drivers who move on roads across the country could testify to his claims of the country’s road network being improved on by the government.

The minister also said the government had identified in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) energy sufficiency and infrastructure development as critical action points to pursue.

According to him, “These 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.

“But it is one thing to have a plan, and yet another thing to commit to a faithful implementation of that plan. If you think this is not important, let me remind you that in 2015, only N18 billion was budgeted for all Nigerian roads in the Ministry of Works. Only N9 billion was funded at the time, when Nigeria’s oil was selling at close to $100 per barrel.

“What has changed under the ERGP is that the President Muhammadu Buhari government has committed close to N300 billion to roads, and funded about N260 billion at a time when oil prices are manifestly below the 2015 figures.”

Speaking on the impacts of the investment on the road sector, Fashola said: “So if people ask you what change means, please tell them it means doing more with less.

“What are the results of this change? The results mean reduced journey times on the sections of roads where work has now resumed.

“Those 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 still 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.

“Those of you who ply the Suleja-Minna highway where we have strategic NNPC depots at Minna and the PPMC depot at Diko, will now acknowledge that the contractor is back to work.

“I 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 the president.

“Those of you who take products from the NNPC depot at Gusau would 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.”

The minister also noted that works on roads such as the Ibadan-Abeokuta highway, Enugu-Abakaliki and Kaduna-Jos roads have progressed.

“So, 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 time on these roads is gradually improving and the presence of contractors at the work site gives you hope that it will get better,” he noted.