By Owoleye Oluwakayode
The Senate Committee on Works and housing has called for the commissioning of completed projects, especially in the road sector to enable Nigerians know and appreciate what the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari has been doing with the nation’s resources since inception.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, who led other members on Oversight function to the Ministry of Works and Housing, commended the minister, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola over progress made in the areas of road infrastructure development across the country.
The Committee also commended Fashola and his Team for the progress so far made on the ongoing construction, rehabilitation, and expansion of roads across the country.
It further called for the commissioning of completed projects saying it would enable Nigerians know and appreciate what the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been doing with the nation’s resources since inception.
Addressing the Management of the Ministry, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Adamu Aliero, expressed appreciation on the work of the Ministry in terms of road construction and rehabilitation saying it has become necessary to commission the finished projects for the Nigerian public to see.
The Chairman who said the Committee recently concluded a nationwide tour of the road and bridge projects, declared, “We have to let the public know what the President has done in the road sector. I appeal that you take the initiative to commission the completed parts or sections of the roads.”
Also speaking in the same vein, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that a lot has been achieved in the last six years in the road sector but because the completed roads were not being commissioned, most Nigerians found it difficult to appreciate the achievements.
Senator Ekweremadu noted that some of the contractors have done well in carrying out their assignments on the road projects while others have not and thus recommended that in the face of paucity of funds, those contractors doing good jobs should be paid while those not doing well should be sanctioned.
He added that it was better to use available funds to pay those contractors performing well instead of waiting for those who are not doing well.
In his remarks, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who described the progress so far made on the ongoing road construction and rehabilitation nationwide as tremendous, declared, “This administration has done very well by moving people from poverty to prosperity,” pointing out that it has completed almost all the projects inherited from the previous administration.
He told the Minister, “I appreciate what you are doing even though you will receive a lot of criticisms, we know you are doing well.”
Also reiterating the importance of commissioning the completed projects, the lawmaker said, “We have to blow our own trumpet to make Nigerians know what we are doing.”
In his remarks, the Minister explained that the concern of the Ministry was principally to ensure completion of the roads to give Nigerians quality travel time in terms of journey time and experience adding that Federal roads are very long roads that connect cities and states as opposed to the intra-city roads.
“I have continuously explained to people that the roads that belong to the federal government are very long roads. They are roads that connect cities and states together, unlike intra-city roads that connect local governments together.
“So, sometimes somebody will ask me ‘when are you going to commission the roads.’ And I ask them, “How, for instance, do you commission Kano-Maiduguri Road; where do you start the commissioning from,” the Minister said.
According to him, “Completion happens in the way we do construction, you close up a Section of the road while constructing and after finishing, you open it up for use. The day you start driving on the roads, it means the roads have been commissioned.”
Noting that commissioning was better suited for municipal roads of five to ten kilometres, Fashola, however promised that the Ministry would consider commissioning some of the completed roads adding that the priority at the moment was to give Nigerians a good road network especially during this ember month.
In the robust question and answer session, some of the Lawmakers raised the issue of delays in the completion of some major roads, especially those leading or passing through their constituencies or districts urging the Minister to use his good offices to ensure their completion before the exit of the administration.
Responding, Fashola listed some reasons for apparent delays in project completion to include, paucity of funds, topography of the project location and problems of climate change pointing out that the Rainy Season in Nigeria is always very challenging, especially to road construction.
“The other point I want to make is that the Rainy Season is always very challenging in Nigeria in terms of transport logistics,” the Minister said adding that roads through swampy or muddy terrains always pose more difficulties during construction as the top soils have to be replaced.
On the issue of the major projects funded under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) initiative – Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge-, Fashola said much progress have been made on them adding the Buhari administration was committed to delivering them before 2023.