The Minister of Works and Housing Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN has said that the focus of the 2021 Budget Proposal of the Ministry remains the completion of priority road projects in the country.
The Minister who stated this during the Presentation and Defence of the Ministry’s 2021 Budget before the Senate Committee on Works said that given the wide disparity between the Ministry’s liabilities in unpaid certificates and the volume of road projects, it has become imperative for the Ministry to prioritize its 2021 Capital proposal in order to make appreciable impact in road infrastructure development.
He said that the Ministry was currently undertaking a total of 711 Highway Projects spread over the Six Geo-Political Zones of the country.
The 711 on-going road projects were categorized according to funding mechanisms which included; Highway Projects financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), Highway Projects financed with Sovereign Sukuk Fund, Highway Projects financed under Tax Credit and Highway Projects funded from Multilateral.
Speaking on Highway Projects financed with the Sovereign Sukuk Fund, he explained that the Ministry was financing a total of 44 roads and bridges across the country using the 2020 Sovereign Sukuk issuance. He added that the roads were mainly dual carriageways on the major arterial routes A1 to A9 on the Federal road networks.
On the 2021 Budget proposal, he said that the focus of the Ministry remained the completion of some priority road projects especially those on routes A1 to A9 saying that these roads and bridges lead to ports and major agricultural hubs across the six Geo-Political Zones of the country.In furtherance to this, he said Mr. President has repeatedly emphasized the need to focus budget on completion of projects. “Therefore, the Ministry has given priority first to about 18 road and bridge projects that have attained some appreciable level of completion. We are focusing on roads that have attained 70 percent completion levels,” he said.
Fashola appealed to members of the National Assembly and other well-meaning Nigerians to build a national consensus as adults to stop the agitation for new road projects but to agree on completion of ongoing road projects that cut across the six Geo-political zones of the country due to budgetary constraints.On the impact the proposed 2021 budget would have on the economy and its citizenry, he said: “In order to enable the Ministry make a significant impact in the improvement of the Federal road networks to boost economic activities and create jobs, it is imperative to improve the funding of Highway Projects by releasing funds for the projects under the Amended 2020 Budget to defray the outstanding payments,” he said.
He also appealed that the budget ceiling for Highway Projects in the 2021 Budget proposal be made to cover the execution of works during the year as well as leveraging on other alternative funding sources like the Sukuk Bond and the PIDF.Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Adamu Aliero stated that although budgetary allocation to the Ministry remained one of the highest, it was not enough looking at the humongous work to be done on the nation’s roads and the current debt profile of the Ministry.
The Chairman assured the Minister that the Committee would continue to work with the Ministry to ensure that it succeeds. “The Committee is poised to work in line with the principles of the 2021 Budget. We will strengthen the outcome of our oversight duties,” he said.