By Favour Nnabugwu
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has said the Construction Companies are to re-engage 17,500 workers laid off the sector in the last three years over huge debts owed to them
Fashola made this known on a television programme, Good Morning Nigeria, a Nigerian Television Authority programme in Abuja yesterday
According to the Minister, “41 Construction Companies including some consultancy firms will be payed this quarter. The Ministry cannot accommodate all the contractors due to insufficient funds being expected from the Federal Government. The priority of the Ministry is to finish as many on-going road projects as possible.”
On the amount allocated to the Ministry this quarter, Fashola said that N79bn is earmarked for road projects, N24bn for power while about N5bn for housing totaling N108bn.
However, the highlight of major projects in the 2016 Budget for the ministries on road and bridges are over 40 projects spread across the geo-political zones, including: N13 billion for Dualization of Kano-Maiduguri road (Sections I-V); N8.7 billion Reconstruction and Pavement strengthening of sections of Benin-Sagamu expressway; N14.2 billion for the Construction of Oju/Loko Oweto Bridge to link Loko and Oweto with approach Roads and Oshegbudu-Oweto road; N13 billion for Concession of 2nd Niger Bridge and N6 billion for Dualisation of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States
The others include: N4.8 billion for Rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani road; N8.8 billion for Rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tabuwal Kotangora-Makira Road; N40 billion for Lagos – Ibadan road (Section I); N2.8 billion for completion of Gombe-Numan-Yola road phase II; N5 billion for the Rehabilitation of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworoshoki Road; N2.6 billion for Dualization of Kano-Katsina road phase I; N6 billion for Dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin Section II; N5.5 billion for Rehabilitation of Enugu-Onitsha Road and N2 billion for Dualization of Sapele-Agbor-Ewu Road (Section I)
Based on the funds available to the Ministries, he stated that the contractors have agreed to return to site while some have already started mobilizing to site in anticipation of payment.
The Minister enumerated some of the road projects that will benefit from the re-mobilization to site to include Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, Loko-Oweto Bridge in Benue State, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, 2nd Niger Bridge, Abuja-Lokoja Expressway, Ore-Shagamu Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt among others.
On the issue of power generation, the Minister, noted that there are problems along the power sector, ranging from distribution, transmission, generation and gas supply, he opined that the existing gap of meter supply in the distribution segment of the power sector has created enormous opportunities for local production.
The Minister stated that Distribution Companies have been asked to raise capital to buy and supply meters and replace the aged ones since they have increased their tariff or divest some of their shares in order to raise funds to finance the business. He said that DisCos can have strategic shares arrangement in exchange for goods like meters, cables etc with companies who make those products which they need to service their customers.
On the housing sector, Fashola stated that the Ministry aims at having a policy that will standardize housing schemes, the materials to be used in those houses will be uniformed. The companies producing doors, windows and other accessories will produce in large quantities and they will be same throughout the nation, which invariably will lead to employment generation.
He also noted that there is quest for what is affordable which will be to the reach of the poor and the low income earners which will help bridge the gap in the housing deficit.
He stressed that in order to have a sustainable and affordable housing; there must be an agreement, a common purpose and parameters as well as those who are qualified to occupy those houses. He added that for Nigerians to have a national housing policy that will be acceptable, considerations must also be placed on both religion and cultural differences.
The Minister reiterated the need for government to buy the idea of using local raw materials as against the imported ones, adding that it will not only boost the economy but will be an avenue to generate employment for Nigerian youths as well as encouraging the cottage industries and reduce capital flight of foreign exchange.