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BUDGET 2021: FG TO PRIORITIZE COMPLETION OF ONGOING ROAD, BRIDGE PROJECTS IN ORDER TO BOOST ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES, CREATE MORE JOBS, SAYS FASHOLA

 FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WORKS AND HOUSING

             Office of the Special Adviser on Communications

         Headquarter, Mabushi P.M.B. 111, Garki – Abuja, Nigeria

                                           PRESS RELEASE

 

  • 18 Roads, Bridges earmarked for completion within 12-15 months across the country
  • Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, 2ndNiger Bridge, Ilorin-Jebba, Jega-Tambuwal-Sokoto and Enugu-Port Harcourt, among the list
  • The Ministry to take as priority the maintenance of Bridges to avoid further deterioration
  • Also selects 2 roads and a bridge geopolitical per zone for enhanced funding
  • House Committee Members commend Minister for commitment, dedication in pursuit of infrastructure development

The Federal Government will focus on the completion of ongoing road and bridge projects in the country rather than beginning new ones, in the implementation of the 2021 Budget, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has said in Abuja.

 

Fashola, who spoke during the defense of his Ministry’s proposals in the 2021 Budget; listed roads whose completion would be prioritized during the budget year to include those categorized as A1-A9 adding that 18 of such road projects, which have reached appreciable level of completion have been identified across the country for completion within 12 to 15 months.

 

The roads and bridges, the Minister said, include those leading to the ports and major agricultural hubs across the six geopolitical zones of the country adding that the decision to prioritize those projects was in line with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom, he recalled repeatedly emphasized the necessity to focus the Budget on completion of projects.

 

According to him, other categories of road and bridge projects on which the Ministry will focus for completion during the budget year also include those that have attained 70 per cent completion adding that subject to the availability of funds, such projects would be completed as early as possible.

 

The Minister, who was accompanied by the Minister of State, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ernest Umakhihe, Directors and other top Ministry officials, said the Ministry would also focus on the maintenance of about 50 Bridges nationwide as a measure to avoid further deterioration of the structures, which he described as critical.

 

Pointing out that some bridges which connect several geopolitical zones and Federal roads had not been maintained for several years before this administration, Fashola added that some of the Bridges required replacement of expansion joints and hand rails while others required major underwater repairs of exposed piles, pile caps and piers.

 

“Bridges like the Third Mainland Bridge, the Koton Karfe Bridge and the Makurdi Bridge are part of about 50 bridges being rehabilitated simultaneously among others”, he said adding that the Ministry also had its focus on the completion of the construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba State and Ikom Bridge along Calabar-Ikom Road.

 

Expressing the need for the support of the National Assembly in realizing the stated objectives, Fashola, who put the estimated cost of rehabilitating all the bridges at N80.984 billion, however, pointed out that there was need, in the course of each year, to address washouts and erosion envisaged with the subsiding discharge of flood waters nationwide.

 

“We are mindful of the limitation of resources but the frequency of these natural disasters caused by Climate Change and aging infrastructure must compel us to think of making provisions for emergencies”, he said adding that the international Best Practice for such Emergencies was between 5 and 10 per cent of the Capital Budget.

 

Fashola, who said the Ministry has also selected two roads and a bridge in each of the six geopolitical zones for enhanced funding during the budget year, also listed for adequate funding the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Counterpart Fund for projects financed by the China Exim bank.

 

On the Ministry’s interventions on internal roads in Federal Tertiary institutions across the country, the Minister, who said out of the 43 such projects 18 had been completed, explained that inadequate budgetary provisions had stalled the projects which, according to him, the Ministry started since 2018/2019, adding that the 17.35 percent cut in the 2020 Budget made it impossible to pay Contractors who were being owed N3.31 billion while the money required to fix the remainder is N3.54 billion.

 

Reiterating that the major challenge of the Ministry in completing ongoing projects on time was inadequate budgetary provisions, the Minister explained further that aside the fact that the funds were inadequate, there was also the problem of timely release of funds to sustain annual cash flow requirement level adding that although funds from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) and SUKUK Bond had helped to bring some funding relief, the Ministry’s exposure had continued to expand due to annual addition of new projects.

 

He said although the sum provided for Highway projects in the 2021 Budget was an improvement over the 2020 Budget provision for the Sector, it was still inadequate to address the funding challenges of Highway projects pointing out that with about N1.2 Trillion as the Year 2021 projected cash flow requirement, funding for works planned to be executed on the projects in 2021 would have to be “efficiently optimized”.

 

Fashola said in order, therefore, for his Ministry to make significant impact in the improvement of the Federal road network and boost the nation’s economy, there was urgent need to enhance the release of funds for the projects under the Amended 2020 Budget to defray the outstanding payments; enhance Budget ceiling for Highway projects in the 2021 Budget proposal to cover the execution of works during the year and leverage on other alternative funding sources as well as make provision for emergencies to enable Government respond to damage and destruction caused by natural disasters, Climate Change and other unforeseen events.

 

The alternative funds, he explained include the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which is being used to rehabilitate, reconstruct and expand the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriage way, Construction of Second Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway.

 

They also include the SUKUK BOND being used to fund a total of 44 road and bridge projects, which are mainly dual carriageways on major arterial routes A1-A9 on the Federal road network using the 2020 Sovereign SUKUK Issuance and Tax Credit Scheme being used in the construction of Bodo-Bonny Bridge across Opobo Channel in Rivers State and the construction/rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road Section II in Kwara and Kogi States, among others.

 

On the issue of delay in project completion raised by Committee members during the interactive session, the Minister said aside the twin challenges of inadequate funding and delayed releases, there was also the fact that some of the roads carry heavy traffics which had to be managed while construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation was going on adding that it was necessary to put some measures in place for the safety of both the workers and commuters.

 

The Minister told them, “When we talk about delay of projects, I would have loved you to have specifics of what is considered as delays. It is important to understand what happens at the construction site, especially on highways where we are reconstructing and commuters still have traffic”, adding that ideally on a construction site traffic should be shut down.

 

He cited as examples the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos with an average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 122,978 vehicles, the Koton Karfe Bridge with Average Daily Traffic of 11,942 vehicles and the Makurdi Bridge adding that the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan carries the heaviest daily traffic in the country followed by the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road.

 

On why the SUKUK could not be expanded to fund other road projects as a means of overcoming the problem of inadequate funding, he explained that at every issuance there was a specific amount which the Government could withdraw adding that no money would be left as reserve SUKUK fund.

 

In his contribution during the session, the Minister of State, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, explained that the seeming delay in the completion of some of the road projects in the North East was as a result of security challenges citing the Yobe-Maiduguri Road where insurgents attacked the CCECC and burnt their equipment.

 

Some of the Committee Members, including the Chairman, commended the Minister for his commitment to and diligence in the pursuit of the Presidential mandate of Infrastructure Development across the country.

 

HAKEEM BELLO

SPECIAL ADVISER,

COMMUNICATIONS

TO THE HON. MINISTER

18TH FEBRUARY, 2020

Categories
Abuja Abuja News APC City News Housing Local News News

2021 BUDGET: FG TO FOCUS ON COMPLETION OF PRIORITY ROAD, BRIDGE PROJECTS, SAYS FASHOLA

FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WORKS AND HOUSING

PRESS RELEASE

2021 BUDGET: FG TO FOCUS ON COMPLETION OF PRIORITY ROAD, BRIDGE PROJECTS, SAYS FASHOLA

· As Minister begins defense of budget for his Ministry before Senate Committee on Works

· Calls for review of regulations guiding release of Funds for ongoing projects in order to pay for works done

· Commends the Minister of Finance for committed efforts to raise funds for project execution

· Receives commendations from Committee members for execution of projects in various parts of the country

 

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Wednesday began the defense of the budget proposals for his Ministry in the 2021 Budget with the assertion that focus would be on the completion of priority road projects, especially those on the routes A1-A9.

The routes, which are those leading to ports and major agricultural hubs across the six geopolitical zones, Fashola said, include 18 road and bridge projects which have already attained some appreciable physical achievements for completion within a 12-15 months period (December 2021).

Making his presentation, which encompassed the defense of the Ministry’s 2020 Budget Performance and 2021 Budget Proposals, before the Senate Committee on Works, the Minister, who said focus would also be on roads that have attained 70 per cent completion to enable such projects achieve substantial completion levels, added that the Ministry has also taken the maintenance of bridges as a priority “to avoid further deterioration of these critical structures”.

He told the Committee Members, “What you will see of these roads, which crisscross our country from East to West and from North to South, is that they connect most of the important sectors of our economy. They connect our fuel depots so that we can move our fuel, they connect our manufacturing agro-industries so that we can get agricultural goods from farm to market for processing, they connect our ports so that we can do export and import business”.

Saying that 18 of such roads had been identified by his Ministry, Fashola, who said the projects cut across the six geopolitical zones of the country declared, “If you accept our proposals, we should finish them between 12 and 15 months and take them of our list”, adding that on a graduating basis they were at different stages of completion.

Listing some of the Bridges to include the Third Mainland Bridge with an Average Daily Traffic of 122,978, the Bodo Bonny Bridge, the Koton Karfe Bridge and the Makurdi Bridge among others, the Minister, who said they were part of about 50 Bridges being rehabilitated simultaneously among others, added that some of the bridges require replacement of expansion joints and hand rails while others require major underwater repairs of exposed piles, pile caps and piers.

He said the Ministry also intends to complete the construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road and Ikom Bridge along Calabar-Ikom Road within available fund allocated to it adding that provisions had been made to ensure that the rehabilitation of the listed bridges was not hindered during the budget year.

Fashola, who solicited the support of the law makers “to achieve these national objectives” , pointed out that in the course of each year there was need to address washouts and erosion envisaged with the subsiding discharge of floodwaters nationwide.

“We are mindful of the limitation of resources but the frequency of these natural disasters caused by climate change and aging infrastructure must compel us to think of making provisions for emergencies”, the Minister said adding that Best Practice was between 5-10 percent of the Capital Budget.

He said the Ministry has also selected two roads and a bridge in each of the six geopolitical zones as target projects for enhanced funding in the 2021 Budget to achieve appreciable progress on the projects adding that also targeted for adequate funding is the Federal Government of Nigeria Counterpart Fund for the projects financed by the China Exim Bank.

On the interventions which the Ministry made between 2018 and 2019 on roads in tertiary institutions, the Minister, who noted that 18 out of a total of 43 such projects nationwide have been completed, however, added that the amendment in the 2020 Budget which cut the budget by about 17.35 percent, made it impossible to pay Contractors who have completed their projects as well as to complete the remaining projects, putting the amount owed the contractors at N3.4 billion while the amount needed to complete the rest stands at N3.54 billion.

Calling for a review of regulations guiding the release of funds allocated for the execution of projects, Fashola who blamed the delay in funds release for the slow pace being experienced in the completion of the various projects, said most of the contractors were being owed significant amounts for completed projects adding that most of those still working on sites were doing so on trust.

“The major challenge to the Ministry’s efforts towards the timely completion of projects is inadequate budgetary provision and releases for projects to sustain annual cash-flow requirement levels”, the Minister said adding that although the additional funding from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), the SUKUK Bond and the Tax Credit Scheme had been helpful in bringing some form of relief, “the Ministry’s exposure continues to expand as the roads age and deteriorate and require attention”.

He said although the total sum of N276.244 billion provided for Highway projects in the 2021 Budget was an improvement over the N154.2 billion allocated to the sector in the 2020 Budget, it was still inadequate to address the funding challenges of highway projects where, according to him, the year 2021 project cash flow requirement was estimated at about N1.2 Trillion.

Expatiating on the expansion of the exposure of the Ministry, Fashola, who again called for a halt to the introduction of new projects while old ones were yet to be completed, pointed out that various demands for new projects were still being made adding that currently and in spite of the dearth of resources, the Ministry was contending with 711 uncompleted projects, up from 601 last year.

The Minister, who commended the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed for her committed efforts to source funds for the execution of capital projects, said in order to enable the Ministry make a significant impact in the improvement of the Federal road network “so as to boost economic activities and create more jobs”, it was imperative to improve the funding of highway projects by enhancing the release of funds for projects under the Amended 2020 Budget to defray the outstanding payments.

He said there was also a need to enhance the budget ceiling for Highway projects in the 2021 Budget proposal to cover the execution of works during the year and leverage on other alternative funding sources like the SUKUK Bond and the PIDF.

During the question and answer session, some Committee members, including the Chairman, Senator Adamu Aliero, commended the Minister and his team for the good works and the impacts they have made in project execution across the country.

On the question of equity in the allocation of funds to projects which some of the members raised, Fashola clarified that some of the projects which seemingly had low allocations compared to others were being funded by other sources of funding like the SUKUK while the one with seeming high allocation was funded through China Exim Bank with Nigeria contributing a small percentage as Counterpart Fund.

Earlier in his Welcome remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, said the Senate Committee was focusing on the Infrastructure based on the emphasis laid on that sector by President Muhammadu Buhari during his 2021 Budget Presentation adding that although allocation to the Ministry of works remained one of the highest, it was still not enough to address the challenges of infrastructure development in the country especially the road network.

Some Committee members present included, Senator Gabriel Suswan, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Senator Kashim Shettima and Senator Kabiru Gaya, among other distinguished Senators while the Minister was accompanied by the Minister of State, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ernest Umakhihe and Directors from the Ministry.

 

HAKEEM BELLO

SPECIAL ADVISER,

COMMUNICATIONS