The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has said his priority is to increase power generation in the country with extra 2, 000 megawatts, build Lagos/Ibadan Expressway and second Niger Bridge.
He said this during his maiden news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that all roads that connect all the 36 states would be given adequate attention and ensured that they are fixed.
The minister stated that work would soon begin on the various projects while some of the abandoned projects would be revisited.
In his plans, the Federal Government would be collaborating with private sector to ensure that the country generates quality electricity, adding, “We will fully privatise the power sector in order for the country to witness genuine development like the telecommunication.”
Fashola lamented that the last time the sum of N200 billion was budgeted for road constructions in the country was in 2002, saying that major roads which had been suspended due to paucity of funds and are vital to boost social economic activities in the country would be quickly revisited.
His words: “The records that have been made available from previous budgets show that the last time Nigeria budgeted over N200 Billion in a year’s budget for roads was in 2002. It seems that as our income from oil prices increased over the last decade, our spending on roads decreased.
“As far as status reports go, the federal government budgeted N18.132Billion in 2015 and the Ministry of Works got N13Billion for all roads and highways in 2015, although it has contracts for 206 roads, covering over 6,000km with contract price of over N2 Trillion.”
However, Fashola stated that government’s ability to achieve connectivity of Inter-state roads would largely depend on capital spending in the 2016 budget.
He said it became imperative to pay contractors and get them back to work as soon as possible.
“Our short term strategy will be to start with roads that have made some progress and can be quickly completed to facilitate connectivity. We will prioritize within this strategy by choosing first the roads that connect states together and from that grouping start with those that bear the heaviest traffic.
“As at May 2015, many contractors have stopped work because of payment, and many fathers and wives employed by them have been laid off as a result.
“Some of the numbers from only four companies that were sampled, suggest that at least 5,150 workers have been laid as at March 11, 2015; and if we realize that there are at least 200 contracts pending, on the basis of 1(one) company per contract,” he said