Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has described as mere hypes, reports on the poor state of the country’s roads.
He insisted that Nigerian roads were not in a bad state as often portrayed.
Fashola briefing the press alongside the Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami briefed State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi.
He was responding to question asking him to justify the amount of approvals given for Nigerian roads and yet they remain in terrible state.
“The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad”, he said.
He explained that but for funding challenges, most road projects would have been long completed.
Fashola also stated that some parts of the country faced peculiar issues like high water table, which made construction in the rainy season difficult.
He mentioned the South-East and South-South among areas with such difficulties.
The minister added that the ministry and contractors were waiting for the rains to subside so that they could return to sites.
“When I come here to announce that a particular amount was approved for a contract that doesn’t mean the amount has been paid contrary to what you suggest. “You are mindful also that minister of finance, different arms of government are escalating the fiscal challenges we face as a nation in trying to fund the budget.”
Meanwhile, Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N58.48 billion for the Bida-Saachi-Nupeko road and the Nupeko-Pategi Bridge , linking Niger and Kwara states.
Fashola said the projects would facilitate connectivity between the South West, North Central and other northern states.
“The Bida-Saachi-Nupeko Road, we have attached bridge — the Nupeko-Pategi Bridge across the River Niger, to link Nupeko in Niger and Pategi in Kwara State together It is an old contract, awarded in 2013, terminated for non-performance, and re-evaluated. It didn’t have a bridge then; we have added a bridge now, approved for N58. 488 billion and it is expected to take 30 months to complete,’’ Fashola said.
Fashola, said that the rainy season had hampered road construction and rehabilitation, and that the poor state of roads was not only peculiar to Nigeria as cities had submerged and infrastructure blown down in other parts of the world.
“We want this season to quickly end so that we can go back to work during dry weather. And that takes me to preparation for the end of the year; you know we have the ember preparation.
“The team has already started work; we will be working with FRSC; and with contractors. The plan is that in places where they have not yet constructed, they should make palliatives so that the heavy traffic during the end of the year is manageable and inconvenience of commuters reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.