•Says government plans to open 2nd Niger Bridge before Christmas
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday said in spite of the shortfall in the federal government’s revenue, arising from weakness in the global economy that led to drop in oil revenue, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has been able to construct and complete over 8,352.94 kilometres of roads and created no fewer than 339,955 jobs between 2016 and 2022.
The minister also stated that the rehabilitation of 12 major roads – spanning 896.187 kilometres across the country – within same period has led to reduction of travel time by 56.20 per cent and added value to the people in the communities, where the roads pass through.
Fashola who stated this at a press conference to highlight the achievements of the Buhari-led administration in the areas of works and housing, which was attended by the Ministers of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, also revealed that the federal government was expected to open the Second Niger Bridge to the public on or before Christmas this year.
But, he said for that to come to fruition, the ongoing flooding on the four-kilometre approach from the Asaba end of the bridge must recede to enable the contractor complete the link road to the bridge, which had since been completed and lit by the contractor.
Fashola explained that the Buhari’s administration had devised a number of initiatives to draw down funds for the construction of critical road infrastructure in the country and end the suffering of Nigerians on certain roads that were notorious for being in bad shape.
He listed the initiatives to include the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF); the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, Sukuk Fund; the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, Multilateral loans/grants and collaboration with other government agencies such as the North East Development Commission.
For instance, he said the PIDF assisted immensely in the construction of the rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Section I (Lagos-Shagamu) in Lagos State; rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Section II: (Shagamu-Ibadan) in Oyo State; construction of main works, including associated infrastructure for the 2nd Niger Bridge, and the rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway, Sections I, II & III.
“My presentation today – by going back to the change agenda, which we unfolded in the Ministry of Works and Housing in 2015 is part of the larger objective of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, to grow the economy through the revamping and expansion of the nation’s infrastructure on a scale that has not been seen in long while.
“In these last seven and half years, the administration has been very resolute in the pursuit of progressivism, which is globally recognised as the improvement of the human condition.
“Indeed, the Ministry of Works and Housing is present in all the states of the federation either through a road, bridge, National Housing Programme, federal secretariat or Special Intervention Project.
“If in 2015, the complaint was the neglect or lack of life defining infrastructure across the country and today these infrastructures are being completed or within the finish line,” Fashola added.
In the housing sector, the minister reported that the ministry was undertaking no fewer than 6,022 housing units nationwide, but has completed a total of 2,864 units in 35 states and the FCT and created 29,030 direct and 57,874 indirect jobs in the process.
In the same vein, the minister disclosed that he had signed no fewer than 6337 Certificates of Occupancy to Nigerians, who were granted federal lands and property but had not been issued with their titles for over three decades.
In that same area, the minister announced that a total of 2,731 allottees of landed property had been grated consent to transact business with their property attracting the sum of N2,210,577,837.95 to the federal purse.
Also, Fashola disclosed that as of December 2021, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) had released N183.1 billion under the road infrastructure tax scheme which was inaugurated last year.
In all, the minister said 8,424 persons had been employed under the initiative.
The minister added that the length of road covered during the period under review was 1,804 kilometres, with the southwest taking the lion’s share of N74.7 billion.
The North-central followed with N62.4 billion, South-south N37 billion while the North-east, North-west and South-east followed with N11.7 billion, N5.4 billion and N3.8 billion respectively.
In the North-central, 1,283 were employed, 493 were employed in the north-west while in the south east 616 persons were employed under the scheme. In the South-south, 1,964 were engaged while 974 were engaged in the South-west.
The NNPC had last year elected to fix some selected roads across the country to ease the movement of petroleum products.
The offer by the national oil company came after the announcement by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) that tanker drivers under the union would go on strike over increasing number of bad roads in the country.
Aside the demand for road rehabilitation, the union further stated that government had failed to enforce the installation of safety gadgets on tankers, which will protect the inflammatory contents of their trucks from spilling over when accidents happen.
The corporation noted that the thrust of the its N621 billion intervention was to make considerable funds available for the reconstruction of roads through it future tax liability.
Fashola explained that cumulatively, 339,955 jobs were created in the built sector for the past seven years.
The Minister of Information who coordinated the press conference, also explained that the administration had done well by implementing high impact projects that met the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians across the country in its quest to leave a lasting legacy, but lashed out at members of the opposition trying to downplay the achievements of the government.
“In the din of politicking, naysayers have attempted to play down the massive and unprecedented achievements of this administration. Some presidential candidates have even released a poorly-done photocopy of this administration’s achievements as their own blueprint.
‘’But the series we are starting today will leave them breathless as we cover all the achievements in the various sectors. Because we have so much to showcase, the frequency of these briefings will be high and this will run through the remaining part of our tenure’’, Mohammed said.
He added that despite attempts in some circles to downplay the achievements of Buhari administration, the federal government has no scintilla of doubt that history would be fairer and posterity would be kind to the administration.