Senate seeks special intervention fund for roads

Senator Muhammed Adamu Aliero
Senator Muhammed Adamu Aliero

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Sen. Adamu Aliero, is seeking a special intervention fund from the Federal Government for the construction and rehabilitation of over 520 federal roads.

Sen. Aliero made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja at the weekend.

He noted that the annual budgetary provision to the road sector was insufficient and called on government to grant special funds to ensure completion of road projects across the country.

Sen. Aliero said, “We certainly need special intervention, and I am happy that the Federal Government has approved the SUKUK Bond which has almost been over-subscribed. This will make about N150bn available to the Ministry of Works and Housing to pay outstanding liabilities and continue with the projects that they embarked upon; three or four years ago.

“So it is this kind of complementary funding that makes road construction or road rehabilitation to move forward, but if you rely solely on budgetary provision, it is not enough.

“We strongly advocate for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) where the private sector will team up with the public sector and build roads and introduce tolling so that it can recover whatever they spend in the construction of these roads.

“This is done in most countries where we have standard infrastructure. If you go to Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, you will see very beautiful roads being constructed. It is not done by government alone, it is a joint venture between the state and the private sector.”

Aliero further said all that was required was an enabling environment and law for people to invest in the construction of roads in Nigeria and recover their money.

He added that, “Once the enabling law is there, there will be no problem. People will come and invest; we have received a lot of interests from Brazil and Europe that people want to come and participate in road construction in Nigeria as long as they are sure that they will recoup their investment. The fear is that the present laws we have now are not good enough. So we are working as a legislature to see what can be done to have legislation that will make it possible for either Nigerians or foreigners to come and invest in road rehabilitation and construction in Nigeria.

“They can then recover their money and leave the infrastructure to the state government or even renew the construction agreement as the case may be.”

On the $311m Abacha loot returned to the country by the United States, Aliero said it would be used essentially to finance the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, Lagos-Ibadan and Sagamu-Benin highways.

Sen. Aliero explained that, the money “will also be used to construct the Second Niger Bridge which is now at an advanced stage of completion.

“During the oversight function of the Senate Committee on Works, we were in all these projects sites and we have seen a lot of seriousness on the part of the contractors, particularly the construction of the Second Niger Bridge.”

He added that, “A lot of engineering work is involved; it is a massive project; it cost well over N250bn, probably the biggest project in Nigeria today.

“I believe very strongly that if we continue with the funding as arranged by the Federal Government, I have no doubt that the constructors will be able to deliver on time.

“Apart from the recovered fund which is being channelled into these three projects, we also have the sovereign wealth fund where we have well over $1.5bn which will also be used to finance the construction of these three major projects.” (NAN)

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