Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Friday reiterated the federal government’s established plans to build road and bridge network across the country.
Mr. Fashola also highlighted the order of priorities in which the roads would be built through a revolving plan put around three years, between 2017 and 2019.
The minister explained that the intention was to connect states, drive economy, move fuel, food and import and export of goods.
He spoke at the sitting of the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee on Breach of Privilege, Violation of Appropriation Act and Incitement of the Nigerian Public.
The committee had invited the minister over the statement credited to him with regards to the alterations in the ministry’s 2017 budget.
But the minister said he never attacked the National Assembly as a body, saying his response was specifically to the spokesperson of the House who accused him of being “untruthful” in a press statement.
“Let me say once again that my response hopefully has shed some light on the way matters have transpired about what led to what. As I have said here, it was not my intention to disparage the parliament.
“It was my intention to speak about development as a continuing matter and if my statement had caused any discomfort beyond what I intended, I certainly apologize for that. And I’ve made that very clear before that I’m not fighting the parliament,” he said.
The minister had in the course of the proceedings responded to issues slated for clarification like the status of reconstruction work and budgetary provision for Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway in 2016 and 2017.
He said in addition to the plan for 44 federal highways construction contained in the 2017 Budget, government has also identified 63 roads in the first quarter of the year that were identified and prepared for emergency intervention across the country ahead of the rainy season.
This, he said, would give relief to Nigerians, while adding that the 63 roads were identified and prepared for intervention during the inspection tour of roads in 34 states.
He said for the purpose of effective implementation, the federal government has classified the roads into critical economic routes and agricultural routes to include all roads traversing geo-political zones, advancing trade and commerce across the states and leading to the ports as well as those passing through agricultural areas across the country.
Noting that the road projects are spread out in such a way that no zone has been left out, Mr. Fashola listed the proposed priority highway projects slated in the 2017 Budget to include Kano-Katsina Road; Ilorin-Kabba-Obajana Road (Sections 1&11); Ibadan-Ilorin Road, Section11 (Oyo-Ogbomosho); Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway, Sections 1&11; and Lagos-Otta Road.
Also included are Apapa/Tincan Port, NNPC Depot (Atlas Cove) to Mile 2 Accessd Road, Apapa-Oshodi Road, Third Mainland Bridge, Apapa/Tincan Island Port-NNPC Depot Access Road, Benin-Ofosu-Ore Ajebandele-Shagamu Road, Obajana Junction-Benin Road Phase 2: (Sections i-iv), Sapele-Ewu Road Sections 1&11, Second Niger Bridge, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea-Enugu State Border), Yenegoa Road Junction-Kolo-Otueke-Bayelsa Palm and Bodo-Bonny Road with Bridge.
Others are Odukpani-Itu-(Spur Ididep-Itam)-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway Sections 1&11, Ikom Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Sections i-iv, Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road, Vandeikya-Obudu-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road, Oshegbudu-Oweto Road, Oju/Loko-Oweto Bridge with approach roads, Nassarawa-Loko Road, Abuja-Lokoja Road Sections i&iv, Suleja-Minna Road Section 11. Kaduna Eastern Bypass, Kano-Maiduguri Road Section 1-1V, Hadejia-Nguru-Gashua-Bayamari Road and Kano Western Bypass.
Also in the list are Onitsha-Enugu Road (Section 1&11), Enugu-Port Harcourt Road (Sections i-iv), Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Road (Section1), Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road (Sections 1&11), Alesi-Ugup (Iyamoyung-Ugup) Road, Ogoja(Mbok Junction) Abuochichie Road, Otukpo Township Road, Kano-Maiduguri Road(Sections i-v), Kaduna-Zaria Road and Kaduna-Katsina Road, among others.
The minister also noted that the Federal Character Commission through its Acting Chairman, Shettima Abba, had acknowledged that the priority given to projects across the country “are federal character compliant and of benefit to all Nigerians”.
Mr. Fashola, however, expressed regrets that budgetary constraints would have a negative impact on such priority projects.
According to him, the two principal contractors working on sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Julius Berger and Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) (Nig.) Limited, have given notice of suspension of work on the site due to delay in the payment of agreed contract fees on work already done.