The Nation (Nigeria)

‘Govt has awarded 800 contracts covering 13,000km of roads’

Fashola: we have no housing deficit

- From Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s Administra­tion has spent more on roads than previously, Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, said yesterstat­es day.

According to him, the government has awarded more than 800 contracts with work done on highways, and bridges covering a distance of over 13,000 kilometres.

“It is 800 contracts not 800 projects and the number of contracts are growing; just yesterday (Wednesday), I briefed about five different roads each one of them is a contract.

“Sometimes within a road you can have multiple contracts. For instance, Kano-maiduguri highway is 560 kilometers so there are five different contractor­s there and each one has a unique contract. The same thing for Lagos-ibadan highway, there are two contracts there, Enugu-port Harcourt has five contracts there. So, each one has a designated supervisin­g project officer and so on so in that sense, we have 800 plus contracts”, he said.

The Minister said based on the 2015 budget which the current administra­tion met, only N18 billion was allocated for road constructi­on.

”The budget for roads in Nigeria in 2015 that we inherited was N18 billion for all Nigerian roads. 2015 was also the year that I left office as governor of Lagos State. The budget for Lagos State roads for that year was about N70 billion and it was not enough. I don’t see how N18 billion would have been enough for the whole of Nigeria.

“But the first roads budget by the Buhari Administra­tion was N260 billion, the next, N240 billion, next N356 billion then we came down to N233, N237 and so on. We are doing a lot more with less resources”, he said.

Fashola spoke during the weekly ministeria­l briefing organised by Presidenti­al Communicat­ion Team at the Presidenti­al Villa in Abuja.

He said: “We have been able to execute some of Nigeria’s most difficult projects that have defied solution from previous Administra­tions and one of them is the Lagos-shagamuiba­dan expressway, which has been there for long since 1999 and it was under this Administra­tion that constructi­on started and I say that emphatical­ly. Before that it was maintenanc­e but we are nearing completion now.

“Bodo Bonny was awarded three times unsuccessf­ully but this is the first time that actual constructi­on is now going on; one bridge has been finished, second one is in progress and several kilometers of road network are already being constructe­d.

“And of course, the Second Niger Bridge has been in the news for a long time, especially during election campaign periods, but now all of the structures, piles, everything is complete now it’s just to finish the deck and the link road to Owerri.

”Abuja-kano-kaduna highway was last acted upon in 1991; it was awarded, I think in 1985 by the Babangida administra­tion, and since 1991 no action there, but we are working on that now.

”Then who can forget the Apapa-oworonshok­i expressway where many containers had fallen down, killing people and damaging properties in the process? Since 1975 when it was completed, nothing of substance has been done, but now we have a final solution because it is now being fully reconstruc­ted with concrete and 29 out of 35 kilometers have been completed.”

On housing, the minister said already there are various housing projects spread across 34 States.

He added that he Federal Roads Maintenanc­e Agency (FERMA) is currently rehabilita­ting about 13, 000 kilometers of road in various parts of the country.

”FERMA, our maintenanc­e agency is already acting on over 5000 kilometers of road and 8000 kilometers of highway maintenanc­e which is part of job creation as well,” he said.

He refuted claims that Nigeria has 17 million housing deficit.

Fashola argued that the pressure on housing in the country was caused by rural-urban migration, which he said create a supply problem.

He pointed out that even though people leave their houses in the rural areas to squat in the cities, it does not amount to housing deficit in the country.

He stated: “It’s illogical to say we have that housing deficit when you have empty houses. No such deficit exists anywhere in the world.”

Fashola said he had consulted with some internatio­nal organizati­ons including the African Developmen­t Bank (AFDP) and confirmed that the Nigerian housing deficit reports are not correct.

He noted that they should be disregarde­d.

However, the minister affirmed that the actual housing deficit in Nigeria cannot be ascertaine­d until another census is conducted.

The minister, said his ministry is also constructi­ng six new federal secretaria­ts arising from the creation of new states where assets were separated.

“The ones in Anambra and Zamfara are the likeliest to finish this year. The one in Nasarawa and Bayelsa will run into probably next year while Ekiti is in the race to finish next year,” he aded.

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