*As Reps lament poor budget implementation
By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”TheÂ Executive has proposed the sum of N249.4billion for expenditure on federal roads in the country in 2010.
According to its proposal, about N6billion will be spent on personnel costs, N21.6billion has been set aside for overheads whileÂ the larger chunk of N221.3billion has been earmarked for capital projects.
The budget was presented before the House of Representatives Committee on Works by the Minister of Works, Dr Muhammed Hassan Lawan.
The Minister claimed that there will be no new projects in 2010 as funds will be spread on projects that are ongoing to ensure they are completed before others are taken up.
According to him, three categories of projects will make the list, namely, the 34 ongoing road projects which have reached 50% completion,Â another 19 projects which are currently below 50% completion as well as some undisclosed number of projects lumped under the presidential initiatives.
He also revealed governmentâ€™s plans to ensure that major road arteries linking the various geo-political zones ofÂ the country are fixed. He attributed the collapse of the road network on the absence of the railway system and the abandonment of the inland waterways transportation..
According to him, the neglect of other means of transportationÂ and the over-dependence on the roads have brought intense pressure on roads, leading to the complete break down of the roads, just as poor funding and a budget system that lingers till the rainy season.
But the lawmakers have expressed concern over the lack of capacity of the Ministry to implement its budget in the past years and the return of huge chunks of funds to the treasury while roads remain poor.
The Acting Chairman of the House Committee on Works, Rep. Abullahi Jalo who led the onslaught against the Minister of Works said the issue of huge unspent funds in the Federal Ministry of Works was not only ironicalÂ but odd and challenged Lawan to explain the alleged lack of capacity of his personnel to implement the budget.
Rep. Gbenga Elegbeleye (PDP/Ondo) said the Federal Ministry of Works was a complete failure, considering the state of the roads and the inability of the Ministry to intervene over the years.
Elegbeleye and other legislators who spoke after him rebuffed excuses of long rainy season and inability to transfer funds from one project to another, as they stressed the importance of building roads to save lives and property that are lost on the roads on a daily basis.