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Roads: NASS considers emergency fund to pay N450bn debts by FG



The Senate Chamber

National Assembly has expressed readiness to collaborate with the executive arm of government for an emergency fund to clear the N420billion owed contractors by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on road projects constructed across the country.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Works,
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central) stated this at the weekend when the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola appeared before the committee for the 2022 budget defence of his ministry at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
Senator Aliero said that the emergency fund to clear the debt incurred by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the already executed contracts has become necessary for continuity of road projects being constructed across the six geo-political zones of the country.
He, therefore, assured the minister that the National Assembly would intervene for raising the N420billion owed contractors.
“This committee and that of the House of Representatives will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly for needed collaboration with the executive on how to raise the money and offset the debt.
“The N350billion proposed for road projects in the 2022 budget should be used for completion of the ones that are up to 70% execution across the country.
“Road sector is very important and vital in evaluating the performance or otherwise of any government, the very reason federal government should continue with the massive road projects being executed across the country.
“Honourable Minister, for us in this committee and by extension, the Senate, the tempo should be sustained in presenting concrete things to Nigerians in 2023 for the purpose of election.
“We shall from this end collaborate with the executive for emergency fund to clear the N420billion liability as required motivation for key players in the sector to do more,” the chairman stressed.
Earlier, in his presentation, Fashola told the lawmakers that the total money owed contractors on already completed contracts on road projects is  N420billion.
The liability, he explained, is far above the N350billion projected for funding of road projects in the 2022 budget.
Aside the N420billion outstanding debts owed contractors, Fashola also stressed the need for N45billion emergency fund for road repairs on yearly basis as done in other countries.
“For roads to be in good shape at any time of  the year for users, in Britain for example intervention from special fund , is made to put roads in good shape particularly after winter.
“Here in Nigeria, since raining season is the period roads and bridges used to have problems, fund for emergency fixing of any affected one should be put in place which may be between the radius of N45billion,” the minister explained.
On the 2022 budget, Fashola said a total of N450billion was proposed for the ministry and its parastatals for capital, overhead and personnel estimates.
According to him, the focus of 2022 budget proposals of the ministry is on completion of some priority road projects, especially those on Route A1 – A9.
“These are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs and carry Heavy goods vehicles across the six geo-political zones,”  he said.
Fashola specifically declared that the second Niger Bridge will be completed next year.
The minister, while responding to enquiries of some lawmakers  on the state of federal roads in their states, said the federal government has resolved not to execute any road project in any part of the country where state government is not ready to pay compensation to those concerned.

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