Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, and his Ministry’s team, according to Members of the Senate Committee on Works, have recorded huge progress on the ongoing construction, rehabilitation, and expansion of roads across the country.
The Committee members who made the commendation when they paid an Oversight visit to the Ministry also called for the commissioning of completed projects, saying it would enable Nigerians to know and appreciate what the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been doing with the nation’s resources since inception.
This was contained in a Press Release issued to Journalists by Mrs Boade Akinola, Director, Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, yesterday in Abuja.
Addressing the Management of the Ministry, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Adamu Aliero, expressed appreciation for the work of the Ministry in terms of road construction and rehabilitation, saying it has become necessary to commission the finished projects for the Nigerian public to see.
The Chairman who said the Committee recently concluded a nationwide tour of the road and bridge projects, declared, “We have to let the public know what the President has done in the road sector. I appeal that you take the initiative to commission the completed parts or sections of the roads”.
Also speaking in the same vein, Senator Ike Ekweremadu noted that a lot had been achieved in the last six years in the road sector. Still, because the completed roads were not commissioned, most Nigerians found it difficult to appreciate the achievements.
Senator Ekweremadu noted that some contractors had done well in carrying out their assignments on the road projects. In contrast, others have not and thus recommended that in the face of lack of funds, those contractors doing good jobs should be paid while those not doing well should be sanctioned. He added that it was better to use available funds to pay those contractors performing well instead of waiting for those not doing well.
In his remarks, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who described the progress so far made on the ongoing road construction and rehabilitation nationwide as tremendous, declared, “This administration has done very well by moving people from poverty to prosperity”, pointing out that it has completed almost all the projects inherited from the previous administration.
He told the Minister, “I appreciate what you are doing even though you will receive a lot of criticisms. We know you are doing well”. Also reiterating the importance of commissioning the completed projects, the lawmaker said, “We have to blow our own trumpet to make Nigerians know what we are doing”.
Fashola Assures of Road Completion Across Nigeria
In his remarks, the Minister explained that the concern of the Ministry was principally to ensure completion of the roads to give Nigerians quality travel time in terms of journey time and experience, adding that Federal roads are very long roads that connect cities and states as opposed to the intra-city roads.
“I have continuously explained to people that the roads that belong to the federal government are very long. They are roads that connect cities and states, unlike intra-city roads that connect local governments”.
“So, sometimes somebody will ask me ‘when are you going to commission the roads’. And I ask them, “How, for instance, do you commission Kano-Maiduguri Road; where do you start the commissioning from,” the Minister said.
According to him, “Completion happens in the way we do construction; you close up a Section of the road while constructing, and after finishing, you open it up for use. The day you start driving on the roads, it means the roads have been commissioned”.
Noting that commissioning was better suited for municipal roads of five to ten kilometres, Fashola, however, promised that the Ministry would consider commissioning some of the completed roads adding that the priority was to give Nigerians a good road network, especially during the coming EMBER MONTHS.
In the robust question and answer session, some lawmakers raised the issue of delays in the completion of some major roads, especially those leading or passing through their constituencies or districts, urging the Minister to use his good offices to ensure their completion before the exit of the administration.
Responding, Fashola listed some reasons for apparent delays in project completion, including lack of funds, the topography of the project location and problems of climate change, pointing out that the Rainy Season in Nigeria is always very challenging, especially to road construction.
“The other point I want to make is that the Rainy Season is always very challenging in Nigeria in terms of transport logistics”, the Minister said, adding that roads through swampy or muddy terrains always pose more difficulties during construction as the topsoils have to be replaced.
On the issue of the major projects funded under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PDF) initiative – Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge-, Fashola said much progress had been made on them, adding the Buhari administration was committed to delivering them before 2023.