The Federal Government will focus on the completion of ongoing road and bridge projects in the country rather than beginning new ones, in the implementation of the 2021 budget, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has said.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Works and Housing on Sunday, Fashola listed roads whose completion would be prioritized during the budget year to include those categorized as A1-A9.
He added that 18 of such road projects, which had reached appreciable level of completion, had been identified across the country for completion within 12 to 15 months.
He said the decision to prioritize the projects was in line with the mandate of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), whom he recalled repeatedly emphasized the necessity to focus the budget on completion of projects.
Fashola noted that other categories of road and bridge projects the ministry would focus on for completion during the budget year also included those that had attained 70 per cent completion.
He said the ministry would also focus on the maintenance of about 50 bridges nationwide as a measure to avoid further deterioration of the structures, which he described as critical.
“Bridges like the Third Mainland Bridge, the Koton Karfe Bridge and the Makurdi Bridge are part of about 50 bridges being rehabilitated simultaneously among others,” the minister stated.
He added that the ministry also had its focus on the completion of the construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba State and Ikom Bridge along Calabar-Ikom Road.
Fashola, who put the estimated cost of rehabilitating all the bridges at N80.984bn, pointed out that there was a need, in the course of each year, to address washouts and erosion envisaged with the subsiding discharge of flood waters nationwide.
“We are mindful of the limitation of resources but the frequency of these natural disasters caused by climate change and aging infrastructure must compel us to think of making provisions for emergencies,” he said.
Fashola noted that the ministry had selected two roads and a bridge in each of the six geopolitical zones for enhanced funding during the budget year.
On the ministry’s interventions on internal roads in federal tertiary institutions across the country, the minister, who said out of the 43 such projects 18 had been completed, explained that inadequate budgetary provisions had stalled the projects.
According to him, the 17.35 per cent cut in the 2020 budget made it impossible to pay contractors who were being owed N3.31bn while the money required to fix the remainder was N3.54bn.
The minister added that the sum provided for highway projects in the 2021 budget was inadequate to address the funding challenges of highway projects and funding for works planned to be executed on the projects would have to be “efficiently optimized.”