From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, yesterday, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari, has released the sum N34 billion for the construction of 377 roads in 266 rural communities in the six Geo – Political zone of the country.
The Minister who disclosed this when he visited the palace of Agadagba of Olodiama, Godwin Ogunyibo, during the inspection of the ongoing 9km Igo – Ikpella rural road project in Ovia North Local Government Area of Edo, explained that the aim of the roads was to stop post – harvest wastage of agricultural produce.
He said the President’s decision to embark on the rural roads project was because of his concern for post – harvest losses suffered by farmers who are mostly domiciled in rural areas of the country, adding that the President particularly instructed that the roads must be in agro corridor.
“As part of the Economy Sustainability Plan of the President, especially as part of effort to mitigate against the post COVID-19 pandemic, his attention is particularly on agriculture.
“The President who wants us to eat what we produce, says we must produce what we eat.
“He is particularly concerned that food produce in the rural areas find it difficult to get to the cities because of poor road. The farmers suffer a lot of post-harvest losses due to the absence of storage facilities.
“You go to the River to catch fish, before you get to the market, the fish turns bad, over 50 per cent of our mangoes harvested yearly are wasted. The only way we can encourage investors to these rural areas and also encourage farmers is to build these roads”, the Minister said.
He also disclosed that apart from the N34 billion for the rural roads, the sum of N60 billion has been released for the maintenance of 257 Federal roads across the six geo political zone.
“This maintenance work is being supervised by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA)”, Agba said.
He, therefore, urged the people of the communities where the roads are sited to cooperate with the contractors for quality work.
In his comment, the traditional head of Olodiama, Godwin Ogunyibo, commended President Buhari for the project and said that the project will enhance the livelihood of the people.
“We are fishermen and our fish does not get to the market because there is no road, we also do not have means of preserving these fish.
“This road project has shown that the President does not believe in propaganda”, he said.
It was learnt that the 377 rural roads are being constructed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.