By Deji Elumoye
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday put the debt the federal government owes contractors for 711 ongoing road projects nationwide at N392 billion.
The minister, at the ministry’s 2021 budget defence session before the Senate Committee on Works, said the N392 billion debt profile was higher than the N276 billion proposed as budgetary allocation for road projects in 2021.
Fashola added that with the situation on the ground, new projects would be stopped while ongoing ones should be prioritised towards achieving completion of some of them.
According to him, N6.62trillion is needed by the government to complete the 711 road projects, adding that the resources are not available.
He said: “We do not have the resources that we need to fix our road infrastructure at once – the very reason why we need to prioritise what want to do.
“The situation on ground requires us to cut our coat according to our cloth and not according to our size because no goodwill comes out of more new road projects now”.
The minister, however, explained that in order to remedy the situation, the 711 projects have been categorised into four areas for funding and execution.
He stated that the first categorisatiom is the highway projects financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund ( PIDF) which covers projects such as Lagos – Shagamu – Ibadan dual carriageway, 2nd Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja – Kaduna-Kano dual carriageway.
The second are highway projects financed with the Sovereign Sukuk Fund, totalling 44 roads across the six geo-political zones .
Third, are highway projects financed under tax credit some which are Lokoja- Obajana – Kabba – Ilorin road, Apapa – Wharf Road in Lagos State, Apapa – Oworonsoki – Ojota Expressway etc.
Those in the fourth category are highway projects funded from multilateral loans.
Fashola added that the ministry has given priority to 18 roads/bridges projects on which work had advanced and within a completion period of 12 -15 months.
When the Chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, advised the minister on the possibility of utilising the fund in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), to execute some of the road projects, Fashola said he was not in a position to do that.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) seems to be in the best position to work out such arrangement. It will be helpful if that type of funding can be put together,” the minister said.