Senator: no cash for 3,300 roads in next year’s budget


Many bad federal roads will not be fixed for now due to cash crunch, a senator said at the weekend

The Federal Government cannot fund 3,300 roads that need to be repaired across the country.

Of the 3,800 roads identified as requiring attention, only 500 have been captured in the 2020 budget, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari has said.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, said Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), presented the list of 3,800 roads to his committee.

Senator Buhari said Fashola knew that many roads across the country needed serious attention.

He added that budgetary approval was only made for 500 roads.

The Ministry of Works and Housing had the highest figure in the 2020 budget proposal, with N262billion allocated to it, but it is far from what is needed.

Senator Buhari said: “The state of our roads is horrible. If you look at this year’s budget, N260billion has been budgeted for roads in Nigeria, but I must be honest with you, the roads so far are deplorable all over the country.

“From the North, West, East and South, it is horrible. But, the money is not enough to do the job that is prioritised.

“Like the Trunk A roads in the Southwest for example – the Lagos to Ibadan, Ibadan to Ogbomosho and Ogbomosho to Ilorin – those are the ones picked. The same thing with the Eastern Bypass in Owerri, South-South and other regions.

“You know in Nigeria, we prioritise and politicise everything. If you pick a particular section, other sections will not look at the benefits that will go to human beings generally and those to enjoy the use; they will say you are biased because you belong to a particular place.

“About five days ago, I was with Fashola and we were discussing the state of Nigerian roads.

“He brought out a list of over 3,800 roads, but the available money can only repair 500 roads and they must be spread and not put in a particular section of the country.

“That is what is happening. I can assure you that, it may take some time, but we will reach there.”

The senator said reports on Fashola’s comments on roads could not be true.

He said: “He (Fashola) has never said that. I was with him five days ago; he even showed me the map and the plottings of their priorities. If he had said that, he won’t show me the map or their priorities. He won’t even tell me we have over 3,000 roads that needed attention.

“The only thing he said to me was that what they met is not what it is now; that they have achieved a lot.

“You will even agree that before January next, the Oyo-Ogbomosho road would have gone very far because it is in the budget.

“What the minister told me was that before next year, he will try and work hard to ensure that the road project advances.

“Several roads need attention. But, with the prioritisation, it will help work.”

Buhari, who represents Oyo North District, fielded questions from reporters after attending a thanksgiving service in honour of Mrs Bimbo Oladeji, representing Ogbomosho North State Constituency.

The service, held at Masifa Baptist Church, Citadel of Glory, Ogbomoso, was attended by former Oyo State Governor Christopher Alao-Akala, Senator Ayo Adeseun and members of the state House of Assembly.

Fashola, at the weekend, said he was misquoted, adding that he did not use the word “exaggeration”.

The minister spoke in Ilara- Mokin, Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State while inaugurating four privately-funded roads constructed by an indigene and Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Limited, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo.

Fashola said the Federal Government would prioritise the roads.

He said he went around the 36 states and could not have said the roads were good.

On being asked by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to resign and apologise over the comment, Fashola said: “I didn’t use the word ‘exaggerated’, I didn’t say that and please go and listen to what I said.”

Fashola reiterated that the Federal Government would not refund any state that rehabilitates or reconstructs federal roads.

He added that the bill for road refund from state governments was on the high side, amounting to N500billion.

Fashola, during his ministry’s budget defence in the House of Representatives, said for Nigeria to meet up with the infrastructural deficit, N10 trillion infrastructural bond was needed.

He said while government was constrained to operate within the current budgetary limits, it has considerably scaled up performance using the Sukuk Bond over which he said government had no allocation control.

“If the N10trillion bond is created, we can draw from it without resorting to the annual budget, but of course with legislative backing to solve our problems once and for all,” he said.

The Minister was been criticised for his statement on the state of federal roads.

While addressing state house correspondents last Wednesday, he said: “You must also be aware that between awarding a contract and mobilising, there is a distance. First, we have to have an agreement between the ministry of works and the ministry of justice. There is also a role that banks play. These are the things I’d like to know as a correspondent, to be able to help me better inform the public.

“Also, building materials, rocks, laterite, quarry, iron rod have to be ordered. Construction companies don’t keep them. The process of blasting rocks requires approval from the ministry of mines and even the office of the NSA (National Security Adviser) to get approval, to get dynamite.

“(On) the problem of some places like Warri/Benin/Sapele road, and the southeast you talked about. First, you have to know that these places don’t stand in isolation. The Niger Delta is the lungs of Nigeria; that’s the rainforest, a high water table area.

“These problems (were) not as pronounced as they are now in January and February. The reason is that is the dry season of the year. This is the rainy season. I know no country that doesn’t face transport challenges in extreme weather. In some places, it is winter and snow; they cancel flights. In some places, it is a typhoon.

“Flood will affect roads. We’ve seen cites submerged. We’ve seen infrastructure blown down in other parts of the world. It’s one world. This is our time to experience it. We want this season to quickly end so that we can go back to work in the dry season.”


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