Minister of Works and Housing Raji Fashola said the Federal Government is indebted to road construction firms in the country to the tune of N392billion. Fashola disclosed in Abuja during his budget defence session before the Senate Committee on Works. He said the firms are handling 711 road projects across the country. He lamented the N392billion debt is far higher than the N276billion proposed as budgetary allocation for road projects in 2021 Appropriation Bill.
Fashola said: “With the situation on ground, a stop has come for new projects and need for prioritizing of existing ones towards achieving completion of some of them.” He insisted N6.62trillion is required to fund the 711 road projects but due to scare resources, the Federal Government has no choice but to prioritize the important roads. Fashola said: “We do not have the resources that we need to fix our road infrastructure at once. The very reason why we need to prioritize what we want to do.
“The situation on ground requires us to cut our coat according to our cloth and not according to our size because no good will come out of more new road projects now.” He however explained to the committee that in order to remedy the situation, the 711 projects have been categorized into four different areas of funding and execution. The first of such categorisation, he said, is the Highway Projects Financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) which covers projects such as Lagos – Shagamu – Ibadan dual carriage way, 2nd Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja – Kaduna – Kano dual carriage way.
The second of such categorization according to the Minister, are Highways Projects Financed with the Sovereign Sukuk Fund totalling 44 roads across the six geo- political zones. Third in the categorisation, the Minister added, are Highways Project Financed under Tax Credit like the Lokoja- Obajana – Kabba – Ilorin road, Apapa – Wharf Road in Lagos State, Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Expressway, etc. Those in the fourth category, he stated further, are Highways Projects funded from Multilateral Loans.
He informed the lawmakers the Ministry would prioritise 18 road projects that have already attained some appreciable physical achievement for completion within a 12 – 15 month period (December 2021). When the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), suggested to the Minister the needs to look at the fund in the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to fund some of the road projects, he said he was not in a position to do that. “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seems to be in the best position to work out such an arrangement.
“It will be helpful if that type of funding can be put together,” he said.