Nigeria’s cabinet approves N2.6billion augmentation for road contracts

By Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council has approved about N2.6billion for the revised estimates of contracts for the rehabilitation of roads in Anambra, Imo and Cross River States.

The approval was given at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said the first approval was for the revised estimate of costs for the Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe Road which links Anambra and Imo States.

“Council approved a revision of N519million to cater for the change in the cost of materials and all of that since the project was awarded, I think, in 2009 so that the contractor can finish. 

“The contract sum has been revised from N3.7billion to N4.3billion with some fractions on it. 

“The second one that has revision of estimates is the Alesi-Ugep Road in Cross River State, which is 67km. 

“Council approved a revision of the contract sum from N9.16 to N11.22billion. So, there is a revised cost of N2.052 billion.”

Fashola said that the Alesi-Ugep Road was noted for the breakdown of trucks over the years, but pointed out that the contractor has made progress in the rehabilitation of the road.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola

The Works and Housing Minister also said that the cabinet approved N2.132billion for the construction of the Chachangi Bridge, linking Takum and Wukari in Taraba State.

He explained that government changed the contractor for the project because he abandoned the site.

The fourth approval given to the Ministry of Works and Housing at the meeting was for the contract sum N3.576billion for the Katsina-Ala Bridge in Benue State.

Fashola said that the bridge has been in the news and was also the subject of House Resolution because of its deteriorating condition.

He said that the contractor has begun the work following an emergency procurement.

“So, we did it as an emergency procurement approved by law but we still had to come to council for approval and ratification. 

“So, it is total bridge repair, changing of expansion joints, changing of bearings and repair of so many things and also rehabilitation of access roads, which is about 3.3km at the Ugbema Junction in Benue State.” 

Completion of road projects

According to Fashola, government’s focus has been on completing projects that were begun but not completed.

“One of the things we have done is finding out why projects have not been completed.  In some cases, the rate has become obsolete, the price of cement has changed, the exchange rate has changed, and inflation has gone into the quantities at which they were awarded. 

“So, we are trying to resuscitate some of those projects because we know that the contractors will not go back to work if the pricing is not right.  That’s one thing we are doing. 

“There is a government policy also to ensure that we complete as many projects as possible. 

“So, unlike in the past, this government has focused on completing projects.  That’s another thing we are doing. 

“In addition to that we have increased the budget size. So, the budget size for all of Nigerian roads in 2015 was N18billion. 

“Now there is a distinction; we have increased the budget now to roughly about N300billion. But we still can’t fund the N300billion.”

Fashola also spoke on other issues that have militated against the execution of contracts, including compensation claims by communities and the release of funds approved for projects.

Phase 1 of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega Road

He said that government was committed to meeting up with infrastructure needs of Nigerians.

“The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is targeted at Lagos-Ibadan, 2nd Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano and East-West. You will see progress on those roads.

“And then let us understand that the kind of roads where are building are not roads that you snap up your hands and say be and it is done. 

“Abuja to Kano is 360km of two-lane carriageway. So you have to build each kilometer, meter by meter; 360 in four places. 

“That’s in excess of 1000km and you are going to use laterite; you are going to use concrete; you are going to use cement, you are going to use sand.  You are going to encounter logistic issues.” 

The minister also spoke about some of the roads that have been completed by the President Buhari administration, including sections of the Sokoto-Tambuwal Road; sections of the Hadejia to Kirikasama Road and sections of the Kano-Maiduguri Road.

 

Emmanuel Ukoh