BABATUNDE Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, says the Ministry given priority attention to capital projects in the 2021 budget based on the wide disparity between the liabilities in unpaid certificates to contractors in the total sum of N392 billion and the budgetary provisions over the years.
In the 2021 budget, the sum of N435,319,154,026 was proposed for the ministry and its parastatals for capital, personnel and overhead estimates.
Fashola said with the paltry sum of N435,319,154,026 proposed for the ministry in the 2021 budget, the focus of the 2021 budget proposal of the ministry remains the completion of some priority road projects, especially those on route A1-A9.
The Minister disclosed this on Friday in Abuja when he appeared before the House Committee on Works, saying that these are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs across the six geo-political zones.
“The ministry is currently undertaking a total of 711 Highway projects at a total contract sum of N6.26trillion spread over the six geo-political zones of the country,” Fashola said.
“Given the wide disparity between the liabilities in unpaid Certificates in the total sum of N392,019,827,093.87k and the budgetary provisions over the years, it has become imperative that the ministry prioritizes its 2021 capital proposals in order to make an appreciable impact within period 2022-2023, that can be physically experienced by road users.
“Therefore, the ministry has given priority first to 18 roads/bridges projects that have already attained some appreciable physical achievement for completion within a 12-15 months period (by December 2021). The ministry is also focusing on roads that have attained 70% completion to achieve substantial completion levels.”
He stated that his Ministry has selected two roads and a bridge per zone for enhanced funding in the 2021 budget to achieve appreciable progress on the projects.
Also targeted for adequate funding, Fashola said, is the Federal Government of Nigeria Counterpart Fund for the projects financed by the China Exim Bank.
The Minister further explained that the 711 ongoing projects are categorised according to funding mechanism, including Highway Projects financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) which he said are National Priority Highway projects financed with the (PIDF) derived from the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Fashola noted that the works include the rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway, construction of 2nd Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Dual Carriageway.
On the highway projects financed with the Sovereign Sukuk Fund, he noted that the ministry was currently financing a total of 44 roads and bridge projects using the 2020 Sovereign Sukuk Issuance in the sum of N162,557,000,000.
The minister added that these roads are mainly dual carriageways on the major arterial routes A1-A9 on the federal road network.
He said the projects under routes A1 are: Lagos -Ibadan-llorin-Jebba-Jega -Tambuwal-Sokoto-Niger Republic Border; while A2 are: Warri-Benin-Lokoja-Kaduna-Kano-Kongolam-Niger Republic Border; A3 include;: Port-Harcourt-Aba-Enugu-Makurdi-Lafia-Jos-Bauchi-Potiskum-Maiduguri-Gamboru; while A4 are: Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala Jalingo-Yola-Gombi-Bama -Maiduguri.
Roads under A5 are: Abeokuta-Ibadan; A6 (Onitsha-Owerri; A7 Kaiama-Kishi; A8 Mayo Bewa-Jamtari-Jada-Ganye) and A9 include: Kano-Katsina-Jibia-Niger Republic border and other major routes like Kano-Maiduguri, Onitsha-Enugu, Sapele-Ewu, Lagos-Badagry, Odukpani-Itu Bridge Head, etc.
On Highway Project Financed under Tax Credit, the minister explained that in order to diversify the funding of highway projects, the President signed the Executive Order No.7 on Road Infrastructure Development & Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme (RIDRITCS).
Fashola stressed that the Executive Order allows companies or group of companies to embark on eligible road development projects and be reimbursed through Tax Credit.
He said currently four roads are funded through this mechanism, including the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with a bridge across the Opobo Channel in Rivers State; Construction and Rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road Section II (Obajana-Kabba) in Kogi/Kwara State; Reconstruction of Apapa-Wharf Road in Lagos State; and Construction of Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway.
Fashola noted that the ministry was also engaged in highway projects funded with multilateral loans, in which the federal government contributes counterpart funding.
He further said that the ministry has taken the maintenance of bridges as a priority to avoid further deterioration of these critical structures, stressing that some bridges which connect several geo-political zones and Federal roads had not been maintained for several years.
While some require replacement of expansion joints and handrails while others require major underwater repairs of exposed piles, pile caps and piers.
Fashola said bridges like the Third Mainland Bridge which has an Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 122,978, the KotonKarfe Bridge (ADT-11,942) and the Makurdi Bridge are part of about 50 bridges being rehabilitated simultaneously amongst others.
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 the available fund allocated to the Ministry, provisions have been made to ensure that the rehabilitation of these bridges is not hindered. The estimate to complete rehabilitation of Bridges is N80,983,583,808.49.
While the support of the National Assembly is being sought to achieve these national objectives, it must be pointed out that in the course of each year there is the 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 ageing infrastructure must compel us to think of making provisions for Emergencies. Best Practice is between 5-10 per cent of the Capital Budget.
•••accuses N’Assembly members of contributing to delay in execution of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road
However, when asked about what was causing the slow pace of work on Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, the minister accused the members of the parliament of being a contributing factor.
He said the Lagos- Ibadan and Second Niger bridge are moving faster than the Abuja-Kano that they started earlier, adding that the Lagos-Ibadan was awarded first in 2007 before it was cancelled and re-awarded, while Second Niger bridge was awarded in 2010 and the Abuja-Kano awarded in 2018.
Fashola stated: “Now, let me also say that one of the delays that we suffered on the Abuja-Kano was after it was awarded, members of this National Assembly wrote to Mr. President to say that they wanted the road changed from 2 by 2 lanes to 2 by 3 lanes. That is in the response we sent to you. At the request of this parliament, we got a directive to say this is what the parliament wants, especially some members of those states. I believe the road passed through Niger, Kaduna and Kano. So we got the directive, changed it by adding another lane.
“The process of adding another lane requires us to redesign the road, so we have to hire a design consultant. In order to hire a design consultant, we have to go through the procurement law that you (Parliament) enacted. We have to evaluate bids the came, we have to evaluate tender, make a recommendation, go to BPP for no objection. After BPP gave no objection, we then went to FEC because the amount was in excess of the ministerial threshold. FEC approved, we commission the design, one year into his work, the contractor had to significantly slow down because there are over 40 bridges on that road.
“So, if you are going to expand it to 2 to 3 lanes, you can’t construct, only to come back and say how do you merge the alignment with bridges. So that must be a factor again into the delay. Now one year we have now received directives because of resources to say go back to 2 by 2 lanes.”
On 2020 budget releases, the minister said the sum of N152,149 749 214.59 was released to the Ministry, which represent 66.74 per cent out of the sum of N227,963,943,469. Capital Allocation in 2020 Appropriation, saying it leaves a balance of N75,814,194,254.40.
He added that the Sukuk-financed projects from 2020 Sukuk Bond were N162,559,000,000, adding that of N77,954,959,846.87 was released to the Highways (Works Sector) from the budget aside from the sum of 162,559,000,000.00k for the 2020 SUKUK Issuance.
Fashola said the SUKUK is to be drawn down for works certified only in respect of 44 Roads and Bridges, adding that the Ministry was still awaiting the payment of the first tranche of N54.8 billion for work done as at 16/10/2020.
He added that the ministry is currently administering 711 contracts nation-wide and as of 1st October 2020, the ministry has a Cumulative unpaid Certificates in the sum of N392,019,827,093.87 on ongoing Highway construction projects.
Fashola noted that the sum of N333,143,077.42 was released to the ministry for the overhead cost for the period of January-July, 2020 which represents 66.49% of the budgetary provision with an outstanding sum of N95,856,771.58k.
In the 2021 budget, the sum of N435,319,154,026.00k was proposed for the ministry and its parastatals for capital, personnel and overhead estimates in the 2021 Appropriation Bill.