Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Tuesday appealed to the Federal Government to give out some of its roads to the state governments for proper and easy management to curb infrastructure decay.
El-Rufai made the call while presenting a paper themed: “ Funding the Transport Infrastructure Gaps in Kaduna State’’ at the first International Transport Conference organised by the Transportation Growth Initiative (TGI) in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria has a backlog of infrastructure because everybody is waiting for the government that has no enough resources to do everything.
He said Nigeria had infrastructure deficit because public leaders concentrated on contracts rather than the completion of existing projects and most times that was done without proper planning.
He said that the Kaduna State Government inherited N25 billion worth of roads and building liabilities for existing projects, likewise the Obasanjo administration had at its inception in 1999 inherited projects worth N300 billion.
According to the governor, uptill now those projects are yet to be completed, and that, instead, more federal government projects, especially roads, are being added.
He, therefore, expressed the need to prioritise projects because there were no resources to execute them all.
El-Rufai said that there were too many projects for the government to execute, and that the resources were spread thinly, so that the projects that were supposed to be completed in three years ended up taking 15 years.
This, he said, was because the resources were too thin to get the contractors to work very rapidly.
.“Unless we find a way to draw a line on the inherited projects and concentrate our attention on key infrastructure that will link up the rest of the country very quickly and give us the economic benefits, we will continue this way.
“In my opinion, there are too many federal roads to be managed; the federal government should give out some of these roads to the states for proper management.
“In my opinion, the regulatory framework for the rail sector is still pre-colonial ,there is a lot we need to do but we need to move away from what we inherited and draw a line and say, look, enough of this.
“This is because it is impossible to make any progress with the extent of public resources we have bearing in mind what we have inherited.
“When all these are done, then you start to construct and then think of how to operate and manage these infrastructure; but we build roads and forget about them without maintenance,’’ the governor said.
El-Rufai said this made roads designed to go for 20 years fall apart in five years because the routine maintenance that was needed to ensure the road lived its life was not done.
“Everyday we wake up eat, service our own system but we think that physical infrastructure should just be built and forgotten; we must manage our infrastructures the same way we manage our bodies,’’ he said
He said this could properly be done when infrastructure responsibilities were shared between federal, states and local governments because the federal government would not respond immediately to a road damaged far away from it, but the state government could.
This, El-Rufa’i said, would clear the poor maintenance culture of Nigeian roads.
The governor said that without concrete investment in all spheres of the economy, Nigeria stood the risk of creating a very dysfunctional country girdled with multiple insurgencies as the youthful population gets frustrated.
He called for a paradigm shift from the current system and change the way we do things because it was “clear that the system “has not been working’’.
Mr Osita Chidoka, Former Minister of Aviation and Chairman of the Transportation Growth Initiative, said that it was right for Gov. El-Rufai to have suggested the reduction of federal roads and hand them over to states.
“I am of the view that the federal government should concentrate on building new interstate highways ,dualising roads and allowing the maintenance to be devoted to the states where the roads occurs.
“The states should be allowed to maintain the federal roads in their areas : the maintenance should be localised, that way ,there would be a way of maintaining the stock of infrastructure we have,’’ Chidoka said.