The Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babantude Fashola, has said by 2015 when he took office as minister there were over 200 roads whose contract value was in excess of N2 trillion and for which payments had only cumulated to about N500 billion.
The minister said this in a lectuere titled: Value for Money in Nigerian Highways, that he delivered at the 24th National Council for Works meeting in Kebbi State recently.
The minister said the huge number of road projects and cost accumulated because previous governments failed to invest on the country’s roads when oil prices were high.
“Some of these roads had been awarded for upward of 10 years. Inadequate budget and funding had delayed their completion. Many sites had been abandoned, workers laid off and equipment grounded,” Fashola said.
“This was where the Buhari Government picked up. With significantly lower oil incomes, we got the contractors back to site one after the other. We raised the budget size from N4tn to N6tn in 2016 and increased capital spending to 30 per cent; which was funded by borrowing to finance the deficit.
“For those who want roads to be fixed and those who do not want the nation to borrow, there is no middle ground. You either borrow to invest in tomorrow’s infrastructure at today’s prices, or wait until you can do it tomorrow at tomorrow’s prices,” the minister said.
He added that the reality the country faced today was that the roads that were awarded 10 years ago and were not funded then had to be funded at today’s prices.
“Clearly, we lost not only the value of money not properly invested, we lost value in the cost of doing business without good roads. We lost value in productivity by men and machine that became redundant,” he said, explaining that the Buhari government had done more with less.