By TONY EDIKE
ENUGU—THE Federal Government is considering the request by some state governments to refund N350 billion spent on rehabilitating dilapidated federal roads in their areas.
Minister of State for Works, Amb Bashir Yuguda, who disclosed this in Enugu while flagging off rehabilitation of Enugu-Abakaliki road, yesterday, said several requests for refund had been received from many states over projects they executed on federal roads.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan had given the Works Ministry a marching order to ensure processing and refund of the amount being claimed by the various states for such projects.
According to the minister, who represented the Minister of Works, Arch. Mike Onolememen, the Federal Government is happy over the intervention of the state governments on the deplorable federal roads.
The minister, who assured that the affected states would be reimbursed, said the rehabilitation of the 77-kilometre Enugu-Abakaliki road was a priority project of the Federal Government and charged the Road Sector Development Team, RSDT, to rededicate itself to the task of successfully delivering the project within the scheduled 24 months.
The minister said the occasion symbolised Federal Government’s dedication to the task of exploring innovative and resourceful ways of funding the delivery of quality services in the road sector.
He said given the high capital intensive nature, as well as technology and skills requirements in the sector, the country’s huge infrastructure deficit could not conceivably be met by relying solely on the public purse.
Onolememen explained that the collaboration between the World Bank and Federal Government in financing the project at a ratio of 9:1 respectively was imperative and represented the way forward for all critical infrastructure, in line with the Federal Government’s policy of promoting partnership with multilateral and private sector financiers.
The minister said when completed, the project, which was awarded to SETRACO Nigeria Limited at the cost of N9.7 billion, would “substantially improve the movement of people, goods and services in a manner that speaks in a direct and meaningful way to the well-being and livelihood of our teeming populace.”
He said the Enugu-Abakaliki road rehabilitation was also an integral part of the Transport Facilitation Programme, TFP, for the Bamenda-Enugu road corridor which leads to the Republic of Cameroun, aside from fostering mutually beneficial relations between Nigeria and Cameroun.
”The Bamenda-Enugu road corridor is also informed by the laudable policy of the African Union, AU, and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, which seeks to connect sister African nations through road networks,” Onolomemen said.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Ayogu Eze, said the Enugu-Abakaliki road was a very significant in the sense that it connects Enugu, Abakaliki, Cross River State and Cameroun. But he bemoaned the huge number of lives and property lost in the numerous road accidents following the bad state of the road over the years.
He appealed to the Federal Ministry of Works to always monitor the contractor, SETRACO, to ensure that the project was completed within the specified 24 months.