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FG Expresses Concern Over N1.39trn Road Projects Portfolio

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…Seeks N921bn To Complete 195 On-going Projects

SAN FRANCISCO, April 24, (THEWILL) – The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, Wednesday in Abuja , put the total portfolio of federal road projects in the country at a whopping N1.39 trillion, lamenting that all of that cannot be financed by the annual budgetary provision upon which the government had always relied.

Onolememen however said a total sum of N921.4 billion would be needed by the Federal Government to complete about 195 on-going road projects across the country.

The Minister, who presented the 2012 performance report of his Ministry to the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC), told State House Correspondents that sole dependence on budgetary provisions will set back government’s efforts in the sector by eight years.

His disclosure came on a day the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, told journalists that FEC deliberated on the resolution of an industrial dispute threatening to shut down the health sector in the country and directed that more findings should be made before any action could be taken.

He disclosed that the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, briefed the council on the outcome of a ministerial committee that was set up to reconcile the various professionals in the health sector, recalling that that “there has always been some level of acrimony between professionals working in our health sector.”

In order to ameliorate the problem of inadequate funding and ensure timely completion of all the projects, Onolemenmen said a multilateral approach, including a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme that will add about 6,000 kilometers of road nationwide was being considered.

He disclosed that the ministry has so far received N85.5 billion from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, Fund which it is utilising to bankroll six projects, including the Lokoja- Abaji-Abuja road.

He stated that despite the fact that the amount of N111 billion released to the ministry in 2012 was not up to the N143.5 billion it required, the Ministry was able to complete 32 projects during the year under review.

"In the last two years, the road sector has received direct attention from Mr. President," he said as he listed the success recorded in the country’s six geo-political zones to include 30 on-going projects in the North-east; 23 in the North-west; 40 in the South-east. He said a total of 34 and 37 projects are on-going in the South-south and South west respectively.

According to the Minister, “As at the turn of the century, that is 2001, the Federal Ministry of Works has grossed up a project portfolio in the six geo political zones of the country to the tune of about N1.397 trillion. And the breakdown of that portfolio shows that 31 on-going projects by the federal ministry works are in the North Central zones, covering a total length of 1,054 kilometres at the total sum of N262.3 billion.

“Out of this total portfolio size of on-going project that has been put at N1.397 trillion, a total of about N523.6 billion has been certified and only about N475.5 billion has been paid, leaving a balance of about N921.4 billion of that portfolio. Which means that cumulatively unto the time that portfolio is completed, we will be requiring about N921.4 billion to complete all the over 195 on-going projects in the country.”

He further added that out of a total road network of 200,000 kilometres, only about 65,000 kilometres are paved in bitumen, about half of which is owned by the Federal Government, representing about 54 per cent of bituminous road in Nigeria.

Minister of State for Works, Bashiru Yuguda, in his contribution, disclosed that the Ministry was no longer paying contractors with certificate but on completion of a section of the road project, saying "this is what we have done to make sure we get value for our money."