From ELEKWACHI CHINEDUM, Abuja
Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, has stated that about N500 billion would be required annually for the next four years in order to fix Nigerian ailing roads and bring them to the standard of road infrastructure development in other nations of the world.
Onolememen disclosed this at a Public Hearing by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Works on the “Need to Address the Near Total Collapse of Federal Roads Across the Country”.
He said the average annual budget of about N100 billion for road development is grossly inadequate for the nation’s 35,000 kilometre of federal roads saying that from past experience, budget provisions were not fully released, adding that, in 2012, only N110 billion was released out of a total budgetary provision of N143 billion.
The Minister recommended alternative ways of funding highway infrastructure by the Federal Government which include: adoption of Annuity contracts for key arterial routes; borrowing from Multilateral agencies and Pension Fund for the key highway infrastructure; Floating of Road bonds for Highway projects; and Viability Gap Funding.
Other alternative funding arrangements he suggested are implementation of the 5% fuel surcharges; user-related charges and conventional Public Private Partnership finance for road infrastructure.
Onolememen gave details of efforts to reinvigorate and make the management of the nation’s federal roads and on-going projects more effective which include restructuring of the two highways departments into twelve departments, the decentralization of the management of the nation’s existing road networks and the development of the recovery of new and deteriorated routes.
He also mentioned the constitution of six independent Zonal monitoring teams in October 2011 reposting directly to him in order to provide independent assessments and enhance the execution of all on-going road projects nationwide.
He added that in order to hone-in these new changes in the management structure of the ministry a 4-day Retreat for Management Staff was organized at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in October 2011 with the theme: Improving Road Sector Infrastructure for Socio-Economic Transformation.
The Minister explained on the on efforts to improve critical routes on federal roads network which are the Shagamu-Ore-Benin Dual carriageway, Onitsha-Enugu Dual carriageway, Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual carriageway, Lagos-Ibadan Dual Carriageway, dualisation of Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Road, Dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri Road and the construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge.
He stated that a Transaction Advisor has been commissioned for the 2nd Niger Bridge under the Public Private Partnership model which is expected to culminate in the award of the concession for the bridge by early 2013.
These efforts, the Minister said were also being complemented by the “Operation Safe Passage on Federal Highways” aimed at recovering deplorable sections of major roads to ameliorate the sufferings of road users during the festive period.
From ELEKWACHI CHINEDUM, Abuja