Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, was committed to completing roads and other national infrastructure projects it inherited from previous governments, as well as any new projects it initiated.
Fashola said this in his remarks at the ongoing meeting of the National Council on Works in Kebbi State.
The minister’s speech at the meeting was sent to THISDAY by his senior Special Assistant on Communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello. “From rail to ports, power and roads, this administration is resolute in its determination to complete ongoing or abandoned projects. Today, there is no state in Nigeria where the federal government of Nigeria is not executing one road project,” the minister said.
He added that Nigeria had the opportunity to build up its national infrastructure at a time the country generated huge amount of money from the sale of crude oil but did not, adding that such inaction was now impacting negatively on the country’s infrastructure base.
According to him, the current government is now left with the decision to borrow money to fix the country’s infrastructure, a decision he said had received several backlash.
“For those who wanted roads to be fixed and those who did not want the nation to borrow, there is no middle ground. You either borrow to invest in tomorrow’s infrastructure at today’s prices, or wait until you can do it tomorrow at tomorrow’s price.
“Our reality today is that the roads that were awarded 10 years ago and were not funded then have to be funded at today’s prices of money, interest rates, and at today’s prices of cement, iron rod, laterite and labour wages.
“Clearly, we lost not only the value of money not properly invested, we lost value in the cost of doing business without good roads. We lost value in productivity by men and machine that became redundant,” he stated.
Reitrating the government’s choice in this regards, he said: “While we cannot recover what is lost, we must not lose what is ahead; in this regard, I am happy to say that the Buhari government is investing wisely and sensibly in the infrastructure that will drive Nigeria’s tomorrow.”
He said the government would like to improve on its commitments to upgrading Nigeria’s infrastructure but was challenged by several factors which he noted included land issues, compensation, and court cases which compound the cost of construction.
Fashola also listed conflicts and security breaches which pose risks to construction workers as the other challenges of the government, as well as the absence of uniform public sector procurement prices; proper project planning, development and supervision; and post-construction main-tenance.