Ministry of Works and Housing said its 2020 Budget will focus on the completion of some priority road projects, especially roads classified as route A1 to route A9 in the country.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced this in Abuja, yesterday, while defending the ministry’s budget before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Works.
He said the decision to prioritise the roads was hinged on the budgetary allocation to the ministry.
The minister said the A1 roads to A9 roads were selected from the 540 ongoing projects executed by the ministry.
He said the A1 roads to A9 roads numbering over 80 were strategic roads, connecting states in the six-geopolitical zones of the country. He said the roads, when completed, would significantly boost the growth of the economy via improved economic activities.
“These are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs across the country.
“The ministry has identified some strategic road projects that have already attained some appreciable percentage completion and slated them for completion from 2020-2022.’’
He noted that the major challenge to the ministry’s effort towards timely completion of projects was insufficient budgetary provision and releases for projects to sustain annual cash-flow requirement levels.
According to him, the total amount outstanding for payment to contractors for duly certified and approved works is N321 billion as at October 15.
He said the ministry was recommending a stay action on new projects to the committee to complete the old projects as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari in his budget presentation.
Fashola said the ministry and its parastatals presented a budget proposal of N287,184,746.31 for capital, personnel and overhead estimates in the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
He added that the 540 ongoing projects being executed by the ministry were categorised based on special funding mechanisms.
Meanwhile, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, has called for unbundling of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) ahead of move to concession major airports in Nigeria. He made the call in Lagos at the 2019 Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM) Colloquium, which theme was: “Airports Concession and Options for Airports Development in Nigeria.’’
Federal Government has begun the process to concession Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports to make them at par with their contemporaries across the globe. The committee chairman said it was a glaring fact that Nigeria’s airports were not just underdeveloped, but also grossly underutilised.
According to him, the biggest challenge of privatisation may be immediate job loss resulting from downsizing as the airports presently absorbs lots of Nigerians seeking for jobs. Nnaji said he was in support of the recommendation of the Nigeria’s Annual Airport Business Summit reports that FAAN should be unbundled to address the problem of job loss and unemployment.
“The unbundling of FAAN may lead to a more efficient and progressive airport development and an enabling environment that will attract private sector investments and tourism development in Nigeria,” he added.
Nnaji said FAAN should be broken into: Nigeria Airport Development Agency, Airport Management Plc and Federal Airports Property Company Ltd., with specific functions that would enhance their efficiency.
Also, Mr Patrick Musa, Senior Transport Engineer, African Development Bank (AfDB), said the Federal Government had approached the bank in 2017 with an Aviation Roadmap that would transform the sector.
Musa said the roadmap included airports concession, establishment of aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility as well as an aerotropolis which needed the contribution of the private sector.
“What this means is that government alone cannot do it and they have to be innovative ways to enable the private sector play bigger roles through the Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he added.