Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, at the weekend, lamented that funding constraints to rehabilitate the increasing number of dilapidated roads across the country has become a major challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari government.
Speaking during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Works, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and its agencies, Fashola said that it is the responsibility of his ministry to ensure that roads in Nigeria are in good condition. He also noted that the inability to complete the various road projects across the country was largelydue to inadequate budget and release of funds. While describing roads as national assets of any nation, Fashola called on all stakeholders in the Works sector to come up with a hard decision on prioritisation of roads for completion and rehabilitation on the basis of social and economic importance to Nigerians.
The Minister recommended the prioritisation of major link roads across the states and the roads to the various sea and airports across the country.
In a statement, the minister, who was enthusiastic with the calibre of the senators that constituted the Committee on Works whom he described as capable and tested men of proven integrity, added that with their support, the challenges on Nigerian roads would be overcome.
Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Mohammed Adamu Aliero, stated that members of his committee would collaborate with the executive to do the needful in addressing the challenges in the works sector.
As an option to address the funding challenge in the works sector, Aliero, suggested sourcing for fund through local and foreign investors by concessioning some of “our major roads. I believe if we concession some major roads and get the contractors to construct those roads to international standards, they can recoup their investments within reasonable time by tolling the roads. This will gradually reduce government involvement in road construction and allow the ministry focus on being the regulator in line with what is obtainable in many countries in the world.” I am very optimistic that the government of President Mohammadu Buhari and the 9th Senate will deliver roads of international standard to the people of Nigeria and in no distant time, they will notice qualitative transformation in the works ministry,” the chairman added.
Other members of the committee in attendance at the interactive session include, Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Ike Ekweremadu, Orji Uzor Kalu, Kashim Shetima, Kabiru Gaya and Danjuma Goje.
On the minister’s entourage was the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engineer Abubakar Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Bukar and directors of the Ministry.