Nigeria

Senate seeks bailout to offset ministry’s N420 billion liability on road projects

The requests contained in three separate letters read at the beginning of plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. 3

The Senate Committee on Works says it will liaise with the House of Representatives and the executive on the provision of an emergency fund to clear the N420 billion owed road contractors by the Ministry of Works and Housing.

This followed the presentation by the minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola, when he appeared before the committee to defend the ministry’s 2022 budget.

Fashola had in his presentation told the senators that the total money owed contractors on completed road projects was N420 billion.

He said the liability was far above the N350 billion projected for funding of road projects in the 2022 budget.

Fashola also said that there was the need for a yearly N45 billion emergency fund for road repairs as practised in other nations.

“For roads to be in good shape at any time of the year for users, in Britain for example intervention from a special fund, is made to put roads in good shape particularly after winter.

“Here in Nigeria, since the raining season is the period roads and bridges used to have problems, a fund for emergency fixing of any affected one should be put in place which may be between the radius of N45 billion,” he said.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC- Kebbi), who expressed concern about the liability, told the minister that the National Assembly would intervene in the raising of the N420 billion owed contractors.

“This committee and that of the House of Representatives will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly for needed collaboration with the executive on how to raise the money and offset the debt.

“The N350 billion proposed for road projects in the 2022 budget should be used for completion of the ones that are up to 70 per cent execution across the country.

“Road sector is very important and vital in evaluating the performance or otherwise of any government, the very reason the federal government should continue with the massive road projects being executed across the country.

“Honourable Minister, for us in this committee and by extension, the Senate, the tempo should be sustained in presenting concrete things to Nigerians in 2023 for the purpose of election.

“We shall from this end collaborate with the executive for an emergency fund to clear the N420 billion liability as required motivation for key players in the sector to do more,” Alero said.

Earlier also, Fashola had said that a total of N450 billion was proposed for the Ministry and its parastatals for capital overhead and personnel estimates in the 2020 budget.

According to him, the focus of the 2022 budget proposals of the ministry is hinged on the completion of some priority road projects, especially those on route A1 – A9.

“These are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs and carry Heavy goods vehicles across the six geopolitical zones,” he said.

Fashola, who hinted that the second Niger Bridge would be completed in 2022, also revealed that the federal government has resolved not to execute any road project that state governments was not willing to pay compensation to land and crop owners.

Members of the committee in their separate submissions commended the federal government and the minister on the several road projects constructed across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

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