FG Working In Six Geo-Political Zones, Develops Three-Year Plan, For Rehabilitation of Roads, Bridges Across The Country
• As Fashola reports progress in Works, Power and Housing at his one-year stewardship
• Priority given to roads that allow farmers, businessman, industries and travellers move their goods, support energy sufficiency and lead to and from the nation's major sea and airports
• In Power: Paying contractors and getting the necessary approvals for them to return to work
• In Housing: Over 500 contractors now ready to be issued tenders for building to start in earnest
Nov 11, 2016 - Work has commenced on roads and bridges across the six geopolitical zones of the country even as the Federal Government has developed a three-year plan and earmarked about N277 Billion, subject to authorization by Parliament over the period, to intervene in critical roads and 42 bridges that lead to and from major food producing states in the country.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, who disclosed this in Lagos, while rendering his one year stewardship, however, said as a result of paucity of funds, priority was being given to roads that allow farmers, businessman, industries and travellers move their goods, roads that support energy sufficiency and those that lead to and from the nation's major sea and airports
Briefing the Press on the milestones already achieved and projections going forward in the sectors under his Ministry, Fashola said although the administration inherited 206 federal roads already awarded, with outstanding completion costs in the region of N1.5 Trillion, its share of the 2016 budget for Works was N260billion adding, however, that although it was "a drop in the ocean against the liabilities outstanding to contractors", it was a lot more than the 2015 budget of only N18 Billionprovisioned in the budget of the last administration.
The Minister said as a result of the paucity of funds, the roads had to be categorized according to priorities, listing the roads where contractors have been mobilized to include the Port Harcourt- Aba Road, where mobilization was delayed until Monday 31st October because of rains and the difficulty of establishing a works yard; Sokoto –Tambuwal - Makera-Kontagara Road where work is going on; Ilorin-Jebba Road; Loko-Oweto Bridge; Shagamu-Ibadan and Shagamu – Lagos ends of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
Fashola also listed other roads and the state they would pass through to include Ogbomosho-Oko-Ilogbo-Osogbo (Oyo-Osun States), Funtua-Katsina (Katsina State), Wukari-Akwana (Taraba State), Abriba–Arochukwu–Ohafia (Abia State), Abuja – Lokoja – Airport (FCT/Kogi State), Oji-Achi-Obeagu-Mmaku-Awgu-Ndeaboh-Mpu-Okpanku (Enugu State),Ajase Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Boundary (Kwara State) and Ikot Ekpene Border- Aba – Owerri Dualisation (Akwa Ibom/Abia and Imo States).
The Minister gave the basis for the categorization to include roads that carried the heaviest cargo, "to allow farmers, businessman, industries and travellers move their goods and themselves across the country in order to drive productive activity", roads that support energy sufficiency such as those leading to and from petroleum tank farms "in order to move petrol, diesel and kerosene across Nigeria", and roads that lead to and from the nation's major sea and airports "so that maritime business could go on, to drive the economy".
Pointing out that the hard choice was also dictated by liabilities accruing from debts already owed from unpaid contracts that had already been executed, Fashola said many of the contractors were not paid for an average of two to three years before the new administration came in adding,"This explained the stoppage of works, by the contractors, the layoff of workers, and consequently poor condition of many roads".
He said government also paid consultants who were now supervising the roads and who, he noted, were denied payment for two to three years adding that this has helped to recover lost jobs, and put some money back in circulation, as part of a government strategy to build out of the current recession.
The Minister told the gathering of Senior Journalists, "As I said during our first briefing, our short-term objectives are to complete uncompleted road contracts, restore motorability back to as many roads as possible, improve journey times and reduce the cost of travel for commuters",adding, "This has clearly started on the roads I have spoken about and the results will accrue as progress on the works improve over time and the roads are completed".
He said his Ministry, in the medium to long term, intended to cover more roads based on available resources adding that it would also increase maintenance capacity of road assets "to ensure that we do not neglect our highways again in the manner we have done over the years to our collective detriment".
To achieve this goal, Fashola said the first step was to restore the authority of all the states controllers of works, to charge them to take responsibility for all federal roads within their states posting, and to bring up an annual budget that would be submitted to Parliament.
"This will help us decentralize authority over road maintenance, vest responsibility on the people who can resurface damaged roads, clear over-grown vegetation, enforce axle-load compliance, install signs and lane marking and gradually restore our highways back to contemporary quality",the Minister said.
On the three year plan, Fashola said roads also factored into the plan included those in the constituencies of members of Parliament and bad roads seen from the monthly reports of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) adding, however, that how far this could be achieved would depend on how much money the country could get, and how much government would get approval to spend.
Projecting for the future of the sector in 2017 and beyond, Fashola disclosed that the Ministry had developed proposals for the budget to intervene in critical roads in the six Geo-political zones that lead to and from major food producing states adding that the choices would be based on information supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture.
"We plan to do the same for states that produce minerals from mining activity, and for states where we have strategic fuel depots", he said noting that because for decades, almost no attention was paid to bridges built across the country, erosion, stress, and in some cases failures and near collapse were becoming evident in some of the bridges such as in Kano (Tamburawa), Lagos (Ijora), Kogi (Lokoja) Ogun (Long bridge on Lagos-Ibadan) Kaduna (Jaji) and other places.
In the Power Sector, Fashola, who noted that as a result of the privatization of the sector, his Ministry was now largely a policymaker, a regulator and only directly responsible for expansion and maintenance of the transmission line through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), pointed out that, like in Works, his Ministry had largely dwelt on completion of uncompleted transmission projects started before the privatization.
According to the Minister, the Ministry inherited over 100 transmission projects for which contractors were not paid for about three years which not only resulted in stoppage of work, laying off of workers, but left projects uncompleted adding that it also resulted in contractors abandoning over 800 containers of transformers, switches, panels and other equipment needed as materials to complete transmission projects.
Adding that the situation was compounded by lack of provision in the budget of 2015 to pay the contractors as only N5 Billion was budgeted for the Ministry of Power, the Minister declared, "All this has changed. The ministry has N24 Billion for 2016 and has started paying contractors and getting the necessary approvals for them to return to work",citing as examples Sokoto, Maiduguri, Okada, Alagbon, Damboa, Nasarawa, Gurara, Osogbo, Kashimbilla, Kumbotso, Ikot Ikpene, among others.
Noting that the aforementioned projects add to the 5000 Megawatts and proves that the transmission capacity is not static, the Minister said with the available budget the Ministry started paying the shipping companies and warehouse owners who, he said, kept custody of the containers adding that the report he had received so far indicated that a first batch of about 400 containers would soon be released to contractors to go out and do their work.
He said the Ministry was also working to complete uncompleted power generation projects to deliver on the incremental power programme in its roadmap of incremental, steady and uninterrupted power naming such projects, which should start coming to conclusion in 2017, to include the 215 MW Kaduna Power, 40 MW Kashimbilla Power (Hydro), 40 MW Gurara I Power (Hydro), 29 MW Dadin Kowa Power (Hydro), 10 MW Katsina Power (Wind) 1,125 MW (14 Solar projects) and the 240 MW Emergency Power Project for Afam (Gas).
Pointing out that the Ministry was also working with the generation companies to increase their power generation capacity through repairs and maintenance, Fashola said Egbin has restored all its turbines even though it has suffered a gas outage as a result of vandalism, adding that Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro have also increased the number of functional turbines which, according to him, enabled them to produce 300 MW extra power during this year's rainy season, more than they did last year.
The Minister said the nation reached peak generation of 4010MW early November this year in spite of the 3000MW lost to gas pipe vandalism even as efforts were currently in progress to repair and restore the damaged gas pipelines, and also to fast-track emergency gas supply.
Government, he said, has also recently provided a guarantee to ensure supply of gas to Calabar Power Plant, which, according to him, "has power and transmission but no gas to operate efficiently" adding that on the distribution side, the Ministry has continued to work with the DisCos to improve their customer service and in particular meters supply.
Expressing delight that some of the local meter manufacturing companies have attested to improvement in orders for supply of meters, Fashola, who pointed out that he had recently been involved in meter distribution flag offs in Kano, Benin and Sokoto, added, "All told, while there is still work to do, and there is the big problem of liquidity to overcome, the promise ahead looks good, the plans are clear and our resolve to implement is unwavering".
Going forward to 2017 and beyond, the Minister revealed the intention of the Ministry to roll out its Rural Electrification Implementation programme, which he said, has already been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the objective was to improve access to power for rural communities.
The Minister told the Media men, "You will have heard of our education intervention project, which is indeed a rural electrification implementation project. We are using universities as one of the anchors because they are in rural areas and they represent a quick way to penetrate the rural areas and also expand to villages and towns in rural areas, close to the Universities.
"We are starting with 37 federal universities, seven teaching hospitals, to which we plan to deploy 37 independent power plants of nine gas plants, and 28 solar plants to guarantee a cumulative 120 MW, to replace 1,105 generators that are producing a wasteful 210 MW", he said.
The Minister, who said the audits and planning of all the schools had been done, added that implementation would commence as soon as financing authorization was secured to provide access to power to people in the rural areas adding that the second anchor of the Rural intervention programme was the use of small Hydro dams that were located in the rural areas to support agriculture and Agro processing by providing power.
Disclosing that approval for the first six was now pending for consideration by the Federal Executive Council, Fashola declared, "All of these sources of power, with embedded power from Paras Energy 40 MW gas in Lagos, the expected completion of Azura Power in Edo, expected gas supply to Ihorbor Gas Power Plant, Gegeru Power, Olorunsogo, Omotosho, Gbarain and others, make me hopeful that we can get incremental power".
The Minister, however, added, "How well we do with making the incremental power steady and ultimately uninterrupted will depend on how we as a people resolve issues like vandalization, electricity theft, electricity conservation, invocation of court powers in utility regulation and of course strikes".
In Housing, Fashola said although construction of houses was yet to commence, tenders have been considered and over 500 contracts are now ready to be issued for work to start in earnest, adding that the Ministry had received land from 27 states as at 24th October adding that more were still responding.
The Minister said the Ministry has completed simple designs of one, two and three-bedroom bungalows for the northern states to respond to the cultural, climatic and land use peculiarities and designs of one, two and three bedroom blocks of Flats for Southern states also in response to similar peculiarities adding that it has also identified inputs like doors, windows, tiles, paint, roofing materials that could be made locally and for which it has resolved to use only made in Nigeria inputs unless there was no local production capacity.
The Ministry, he said, has also done some inventory of quantities of materials needed "in order to provide investment information for local manufacturers to position to respond and supply in order to create employment and get factories back to work", naming the materials to include 22,288– Doors; 27,849 – Windows; 3,502 - Water cisterns; 3,502 Wash hand basins; 2,830 - Kitchen Sinks; 261,299 - Sq. Meters of floor tiles; 178, 680 - Sq. meters of wall tiles; 561,119 of paint and 342,960 Sq. Meters of roofing material.
Saying also that the skilled labour needed would include 413,000 Man days while the unskilled labour would require 440,000-Man Days, he added,"While our planning and research continues, the above is at least indicative of the kind of attention and dedication we are demanding of our staff and the response we are getting".
Fashola, who also disclosed plans to build more houses next year to stimulate jobs, said the Ministry also planned to assess the affordability and the acceptability of its designs after which it planned to industrialize the production of the most affordable and acceptable designs.
"We will then increase supply using private sector as developers while government will then concentrate on strengthening institutions like the Federal Mortgage Bank to deliver on its core mandate of providing mortgages to working class people to own their homes", he said.
Expressing optimism that if the goal was achieve the size of housing deficit would not appear that daunting again, "because it will be a system that can respond every year, instead of once in a while, to repeat housing construction, delivery and acquisition", Fashola declared, "How much we can then deliver will be defined by the size of our resources and our ambition, and not by the absence of a workable plan".
The address of the Minister was preceded by two presentations made respectively on the Works Sector by Director, Highways (Planning and Development), Engineer Chukwuninke Uzo and on the on-going Transmission projects by the Managing Director, Transmission Service Provider (TSP), Engineer Tom Uwah.
The event, which also featured a robust Question and Answer Session, had in attendance the Hon. Minister of State, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Directors of the Ministry and other top government officials.