By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has taken over the reconstruction of 21 federal roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The approval was given on Wednesday, at the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, said the selected 21 roads are 1804.6 kilometres.
The Minister said it was a strategic intervention under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme.
He explained that it was under Executive Order 7 that allows the private sector to deploy in advance the taxes they would pay for infrastructure development.
He said nine of the selected projects are in North Central, three in North East, two in North West, two in South East, three in South-South, and two in South West.
Fashola said he presented three memoranda to the Council that was approved, explaining that two of the memoranda were on road contracts.
He said the first memorandum had to do with a section of Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja road especially the section to Apet Central where he said had a problem with the steel-reinforced drain that was discovered there.
“Those drains were put there, about 42 years ago, and 86 of them have failed and we need to replace them now with concrete rain drains to allow water pass through otherwise the retention of water will badly impact the road.
“As a result of that, we have to revise the scope of works from rehabilitation to construction to remove all the old steel drains that are corroded and replace them with concrete drains.
“It is over 75 kilometres road and that will require an augmentation contract by an additional sum of N12 billion. So that memo was approved.
“The second memorandum relates to the road infrastructure tax credit scheme. You recall Executive Order seven signed by Mr. President allowing private sector operators to identify infrastructure such as roads for which you deploy your taxes in advance with tax and pay.
“Do you recall that I had briefed you here about the use of that policy like the Dangote Group from Obajana to Kabba, Apapa to Oworoshoki?
“Earlier this year, there were five other roads, the Kaduna Western bypass, the Lekki Port road, the road from Shagamu through Papalanto and a couple of others and there is one road in Maiduguri. That was approved about N320 something billion.
“So today, we have another player. We have all the interested players who are still showing interest but we haven’t concluded. We have another player who has shown interest and commitment to deploying taxes.
” NNPC has identified 21 roads that it wants to deploy. So now the instructive thing about this is that this initiative helps the government to achieve many things, including Ministerial Mandates Three and Four, which we discussed at the last retreat if you recall was energy sufficiency, electric power, and petroleum energy distribution across the country.
“Of course petroleum energy distribution is being impacted positively and negatively, as the case may be the transport infrastructure, which is the Ministerial mandate four.
“So, NNPC has sought and the council has approved today that NNPC deployed tax resources to 21 roads covering the total distance of 1,804.6 kilometers across the Six geopolitical zones.
“Out of those 21 roads, nine are in North Central, particularly Niger state. And the reason is that Niger State is a major storage centre for NNPC. So the reason NNPC is doing this is to facilitate the total distribution across the country.
“We have seen and have heard every year Niger State gridlock, the governor complaining that his roads are being damaged by trucks, by those who overload the trucks after damaging the roads themselves now protest the damage that they sometimes have induced. Anyway, this is the final solution to that problem.
“So there are nine like that in north-central, there are three in the Northeast. Two in the northwest, two in the southeast, three roads, the entire Odupani – Itu – Ikot Ekpene road in LOT 1, 2, and 3 now fully covered.
“Then in the southwest, you have the Lagos-Badagry expressway, the entire junction and you also have the Ibadan to Ilorin in Oyo-Ogbumosho section. So that’s it.
“In the south-east, you have Aba-Ikot Ekpene in Abia and Akwa Ibom states. So that’s a major link, then you have Umuahia to Ikwuano to Ikot Ekpene road and so on. In the Northwest, it is Gada-Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road, and also Zaria-Funtau -Gusau-Sokoto road.
“In the northeast, it is Cham-Bali Serti and Gombe-Biu road. The roads impacted in north-central include Ilorin -Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani sections I and II, Suleja-Minna sections I and II, Bida-Lambatta, and then Again-Katcha-Baro road. Then Mokwa-Makera-Tegina-Kaduna all in Niger State.
“So, as I said, it is a total of 21 roads. What will happen as a result of this is that there will be no financing problems regarding the execution of these roads anymore. So, some of these roads that I have mentioned, let me tell you, what has changed. For example, Aba-Ikot Ekpene road has an estimate of about N30.33,399 billion to complete it. The provision in the budget this year is only N200 million. If you look at Suleja-Minna road section II, it has N25.763 billion to complete it.
“The provision in the budget this year is just N100 million. So, with this intervention, all those roads now will be fully funded, we won’t have budgetry challenges and financing challenges. So, the council approved this as strategic funding these roads.”
He explained that the payment for the total sum for the 21 road contracts was not a one-off payment.
He said, “The whole package is N621,237,143,897.75 billion. Let’s be clear, it will be spread over periodic tax for about three years. On the time frame of completion, the completion time already exists. They have scheduled completion times. What has hobbled them and hampered them is that the annual budgetary provisions have not been enough. So, what it does now is that government can save, like the Lagos-Ibadan, 2nd Niger bridge and all of those type roads.”