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By NBF News
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Minister of Works, Senator Mohammed Sanusi Daggash has called for the provision of contingency fund in the budget to take care of emergency road maintenance across the country, stressing that the present system where funds meant for roads are inaccessible easily when there is need is affecting the performance of his ministry.

Speaking Tuesday night during an interactive session with the State House Correspondents in Abuja, he said that the special fund will be with the Ministry of Finance, noting lack of emergency fund for emergency road maintenance does not augur well for the economic development of the country.

Daggash said his ministry was working to ensure that provision is made for contingency fund in the 2011 budget, so that if there is need for road or bridge repairs, the fund can be accessed within 24 hours to enable the ministry mobilise contractor to site within the shortest time.

'In the ministry, we are trying to see whether we can find an all inclusive solution. And I think the solution is that we need a contingency fund for emergency infrastructure nationwide which can be kept under the ministry of finance. So, when emergency comes like the flooding that occurred in Sokoto State, there will be money to get within 24 hours to mobilise the contractors to site.

'But presently at the ministry of works, we don't have a contingency fund. If you come to me that there is a crisis in Nasarawa State, that a bridge has collapsed, there is nothing we can do, the best we can do is to assess it, take a report, write letter to get an approval from the President to see if we can use ecological funds if it is caused by nature or put in the budget for the following year and these roads are being used continuously. So, we are hoping that a contingency fund can be put into the budget and this can be assessed,' he said.

He disclosed that about N900 billion worth of road projects are on-going nationwide and decried the manner truck drivers shorten the life cycle of major national roads by excessive loads beyond the capacity of their trucks.  He therefore, stressed the need to device ways of elongating the life cycle of our major roads.

He insisted that most highways have gone through their life cycle of between 20 and 25 years, attributing the high level of dilapidation to movement of excessive loads by trucks.

'Most roads in Nigeria have gone through their life cycle of between 20 and 25 years and because the roads are also being abused with excessive loads, so, many of our roads are in need of maintenance which we have not been able to do. There are serious challenges for government to adequately fund and maintain these roads so that they remain operational.

'But, we are trying to convince government that whatever we invest in roads has an impact across all sectors. It impacts on trade, interaction, security, agriculture even health, the roads impact on the economy as a whole and in that regard, it is a productive investment for the future', the minister said.