By Favour Nnabugwu
FACED with the enormous need to provide infrastructure across the country, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has voted 62 percent of the mega Ministry to road projects.
Fashola whose total budget for the year is put at N433billion, came up with a three-year frame work to utilize the proposed budget out of which N268bn representing 62 percent was allotted to Works, N99bn, an equivalent of 23 percent to Power and N66bn, representing 15 percent to Housing.
The Minister made this disclosure while defending the Ministry’s budget for 2016 before the Committee on Works at the House of Representatives and Senate last week.
Breaking down the budget, the Minister noted that government is willing to complete the over 200 uncompleted road projects across the country rather than embark on new ones, adding that the completion of the projects will be beneficial to the masses and the nation’s economy. He said that some of these projects were left uncompleted because government owed the contractors and if the money is paid, some of them are willing to return to sites.
He also disclosed that his Ministry had drawn a three year plan with the aim of covering about 6,000 kilometres of roads at the end the of third year, pointing out that each year, a total of 2,000 kilometres of roads will be covered, explaining that the projects are prioritized based on the criteria such as projects with high economic value, those that carry heavy traffic and those that are almost completed.
Fashola added that in the first year, a total number of 31 projects will be covered, a total number of 55 projects will be completed in the second year while 44 projects will be attended to in the third year.
Among the projects according to Fashola, include Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Second Niger Bridge and Murtala Muhammed International Airport road in Lagos, explaining that Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a major traffic road where bulk of imported cargoes come into the country through Apapa and Tin Can ports to other parts of the nation.
“Food items as well as livestock from the North also come to South-West and other areas through the same route. In view of this, if this road is fixed, it will be for economic interest of the nation, so also the second Niger Bridge that traverses from the South-East to other parts of the country, and just as Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road in Lagos serves as the gate way to Nigeria.
“With the budget proposal, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, (FERMA) will have the advantage in providing comprehensive maintenance on federal roads across the six geo-political zones of the country.”