· To spend N31bn on Oshodi-Apapa Road, others
· Plans to make FERMA Nigeria’s biggest construction firm
The Federal Government has listed the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as the major projects it will diligently deploy resources to execute this year.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he appeared before the National Assembly to defend the Ministry’s 2016 Budget.
Fashola told the Senate Committee on Works that “the Federal Government’s plan is to first address economic routes so that a section can at least be completed.
“For 16 years we have not finished the Lagos-Ibadan Road, so we want to work in one place at a time.
“The Second Niger Bridge is another project that is of priority to the Federal Government because of its importance.”
Apparently angry with the zero-implementation of 11 road projects estimated to cost about N4 billion despite the release of mobilisation fees, the Senate Committee directed Fashola to get the contractors to account for the money or honour the contractual agreement.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, who frowned at the development, said it was unacceptable to have mobilised the contractors with part payment of the N4 billion contractual sum without their executing the project.
He directed the ministry to update the committee with details of the contracts awarded in 2015 and their statuses.
According to Gaya: “Eleven contractors have collected mobilisation fees and there is zero implementation; some collected N500 million and one of the contractors collected N1billion.
“For instance, in the case of dualisation of Otukpo township roads, N1billion was paid to the contractors. Honourable Minister, you need to check that and give us details in the next meeting. There is no point giving a contractor mobilisation fees when he cannot perform,” he said.
On the ministry’s budget, Gaya pointed out some roads in the country that were given zero allocations and urged Fashola to consider some of the roads in view of their link to major cities in the country.
The lawmaker said the committee would work on the budget to ensure that funds were properly and adequately allocated.
He said: “I appreciate your effort and concern, Hon. Minister, but we have to know what you are spending yearly on the roads and how to generate funds and see how we can achieve success.”
In his response, Fashola explained that not all the contractors who were mobilised had zero performances.
He said: “It is important to take the assessment that the committee has made on mobilisation into context. In my document, contract performance is not zero.
“My understanding here is that going by the entire contract sum of N9.9 billion, by law, the contractors should get at least 15 percent to move to site.
“The part where we have zero performance in the document, if a contractor was supposed to get N1.5 million and he got N500 million, he cannot be mobilised. We will check and get back to you,” he said.
Fashola disclosed that the sum of N10 billion is budgeted for work on the Abuja-Lokoja Road while N16 billion is earmarked for Kano-Maiduguri Road. He added that the rehabilitation of the Apapa-Oshodi Road would gulp N5 billion.
This brings the allocations for the three projects to N31 billion.
According to him, in a bid to achieve results, the ministry has come up with a plan to implement road projects based on needs.
The minister said that the Federal Government would “strengthen the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to become the biggest construction company owned by government so that some construction works can be carried out by them” .
He said the ministry would consider Public Private Partnership (PPP) to adequately generate funds for completion of road projects across the country.
The minister, however, called for review of relevant laws to fast-track the processes involved in public, private partnership, adding that the hitches experienced in the course of such partnership had discouraged investors over time.