2021 budget: FG to prioritise Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads, 2nd Niger Bridge, others   – Newstrends
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2021 budget: FG to prioritise Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads, 2nd Niger Bridge, others  

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By Dada Jackson

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the Federal Government will focus on the completion of ongoing road and bridge projects in the country rather than beginning new ones, in the implementation of the 2021 Budget.

He listed the road projects as Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, 2nd Niger Bridge, Ilorin-Jebba, Jega-Tambuwal-Sokoto and Enugu-Port Harcourt, among others.

Fashola, in a statement made available to News Trends, spoke during the defense of his ministry’s proposals in the 2021 budget.

He listed roads whose completion would be prioritised during the budget year to include those categoriszed as A1-A9, adding that 18 of such road projects, which had reached appreciable level of completion had been identified across the country for completion within 12 to 15 months include those leading to the ports and major agricultural hubs across the six geopolitical zones of the country adding that the decision to prioritise those projects was in line with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom, he recalled repeatedly emphasized the necessity to focus the Budget on completion of projects.

According to him, other categories of road and bridge projects on which the ministry will focus for completion during the budget year also include those that have attained 70 per cent completion, adding that subject to the availability of funds, such projects would be completed as early as possible.

He pointed out that some bridges which connect several geopolitical zones and Federal roads had not been maintained for several years before this administration.

Fashola added that some of the bridges required replacement of expansion joints and hand rails while others required major underwater repairs of exposed piles, pile caps and piers.

“Bridges like the Third Mainland Bridge, the Koton Karfe Bridge and the Makurdi Bridge are part of about 50 bridges being rehabilitated simultaneously among others,” he said.

He also said the ministry had its focus on the completion of the construction of Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba State and Ikom Bridge along Calabar-Ikom Road.

Expressing the need for the support of the National Assembly in realizing the stated objectives, Fashola, who put the estimated cost of rehabilitating all the bridges at N80.984bn, however, pointed out that there was a need, in the course of each year, to address wash-outs and erosion envisaged with the subsiding discharge of flood waters nationwide.

“We are mindful of the limitation of resources but the frequency of these natural disasters caused by climate change and aging infrastructure must compel us to think of making provisions for emergencies”, he said, adding that the international best practice for such emergencies was between five and 10 per cent of the capital budget.

Fashola, who said the ministry had selected two roads and a bridge in each of the six geopolitical zones for enhanced funding during the budget year, also listed for adequate funding the Federal Government of Nigeria’s counterpart fund for projects financed by the China Exim bank.

On the ministry’s interventions on internal roads in federal tertiary institutions across the country, the minister, who said out of the 43 such projects 18 had been completed, explained that inadequate budgetary provisions had stalled the projects which, according to him, the ministry started since 2018/2019.

He stated that the 17.35 per cent cut in the 2020 budget made it impossible to pay contractors who were being owed N3.31bn while the money required to fix the remainder was given as N3.54bn.

Reiterating that the major challenge of the ministry in completing ongoing projects on time was inadequate budgetary provisions, the minister explained further that aside from the fact that the funds were inadequate, there was also the problem of timely release of funds to sustain annual cash flow requirement level adding that although funds from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) and SUKUK Bond had helped to bring some funding relief, the ministry’s exposure had continued to expand due to annual addition of new projects.

He said although the sum provided for highway projects in the 2021 budget was an improvement over the 2020 budget provision for the sector, it was still inadequate to address the funding challenges of highway projects pointing out that with about N1.2tn as the year 2021 projected cash flow requirement, funding for works planned to be executed on the projects in 2021 would have to be “efficiently optimised”.

Fashola said in order for his ministry to make significant impact on the improvement of the federal road network and boost the nation’s economy, there was an urgent need to enhance the release of funds for the projects under the Amended 2020 Budget to defray the outstanding payments; enhance budget ceiling for highway projects in the 2021 budget proposal to cover the execution of works during the year and leverage other alternative funding sources as well as make provision for emergencies to enable government to respond to damage and destruction caused by natural disasters, climate change and other unforeseen events.

The alternative funds, he explained, included the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which is being used to rehabilitate, reconstruct and expand the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriage way, Construction of Second Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway.

They also include the Sukuk Bond being used to fund a total of 44 road and bridge projects, which are mainly dual carriageways on major arterial routes A1-A9 on the Federal road network using the 2020 Sovereign Sukuk Issuance and Tax Credit Scheme being used in the construction of Bodo-Bonny Bridge across Opobo Channel in Rivers State and the construction/rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road Section II in Kwara and Kogi States, among others.

On the issue of delay in project completion raised by committee members during the interactive session, the minister said aside the twin challenges of inadequate funding and delayed releases, there was also the fact that some of the roads carry heavy traffic which had to be managed while construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation was going on.

Fashola said it was necessary to put some measures in place for the safety of both the workers and commuters.

The minister told the lawmakers, “When we talk about delay of projects, I would have loved you to have specifics of what is considered as delays. It is important to understand what happens at the construction site, especially on highways, where we are reconstructing and commuters still have traffic,” adding that ideally on a construction site traffic should be shut down.

He cited as examples the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos with an average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 122,978 vehicles, the Koton Karfe Bridge with Average Daily Traffic of 11,942 vehicles and the Makurdi Bridge, adding that the Lagos-Sagamu-Ibadan carries the heaviest daily traffic in the country followed by the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road.

On why the Sukuk could not be expanded to fund other road projects as a means of overcoming the problem of inadequate funding, he explained that at every issuance, there was a specific amount which the government could withdraw, adding that no money would be left as reserve for Sukuk fund.

Railway

Apprehension as passengers train derails in Kaduna

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JUST-IN: Abuja-Kaduna train terails, passengers stranded

A passenger train on Sunday derailed at Jere along the popular Abuja-Kaduna route, leaving the travellers stranded in the mountainous area.

The train was said to have left Kaduna at 8.05am heading for Abuja but developed fault about an hour later and stopped at Jere.

It was not immediately clear how many passengers were inside the train.

It was however learnt that more armed security personnel had been mobilised to the area in addition to those on the train to allay the fears of the passengers and their family members.

Senator Shehu Sani, in an alert raised on his verified X handle, stated, “A Kaduna morning train derails near Jere but engineers are attending to it.”

Workers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation have been drafted to the spot to repair the train, with about three carriages off the tracks.

Security personnel, including soldiers and police officers, are also on the spoke to keep watch over the passengers and the train.

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Lanre Shittu Motors to roll out high-tech CNG buses next month

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Lanre Shittu Motors to roll out high-tech CNG buses next month

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lanre Shittu Motors Ltd, Taiwo Shittu, says the company will next month (June) roll out Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses across the country to ease public transportation.

According to him, the move is fallout of the Presidential CNG initiative (Pi-CNG), as part of palliative intervention of the Bola Tinubu administration to provide succour for the masses after fuel subsidy removal.

The LSM MD who spoke recently from Havard Business School, expressed delight at a number of measures taken by the current government towards rejuvenating the various auto assembly plants in the country with specific attention to CNG buses to boost public transportation.

Following a presidential directive that CNG buses must be a priority and preferred mode of transport by the various ministries, departments and agencies, he said the government had shown its determination to encourage the local auto assembly plants.

Taiwo Shittu said during the telephone interview that by June 2024, Lanre Shittu Motors would be deploying large units of the LSM branded CNG buses in airports across the country and for other mass transportation needs.

He disclosed that LSM mulled the idea of CNG vehicles and saw it as the future of the local automotive industry many years ago because of the abundance of natural gas in the country as well as the economic benefits of CNG buses to both operators and commuters.

Taiwo Shittu assured that there are plans to start assembling LSM-branded CNG buses in Lagos using the best technology like in other parts or the world.

Apart from assembling CNG vehicles from start to finish at the LSM plant, he said the company has enough kits capable of converting petroI-powered automobiles to the CNG vehicles.

He assured prospective customers of quality after-sale maintenance of any stock rolled out from the LSM assembly plant.

For over 40 years., LSM through the visionary founder and chairman, Late Alhaji Lanre Shittu, has carved an enviable niche within the automotive industry through its quality products and services.

Taiwo Shittu said introducing the LSM-branded buses was one of the many ways of immortalising him.

He said, “We have taken proactive steps in the past years to offer quality training to our technicians at various stages, levels and categories of auto assembly and after-sale maintenance services.

“Upon graduation and certification, the technicians are also deployed not only in the various LSM offices nationwide, they are also being sought after by other industry stakeholders within the nation’s automotive value chain.”

The management of Lanre Shittu Motors says that all branches of the company are currently fully equipped with state-of-the-art CNG conversion equipment while orders have been activated and running seamlessly.

Meanwhile, the first set of CNG vehicles will be inaugurated during the present administration’s first anniversary on May 29, 2024.

The Federal Government allocated N100 billion from the N500 billion palliative budget to purchase 5,500 CNG vehicles (buses and tricycles), 100 electric buses, and over 20,000 CNG conversion kits.

This funding also supports the expansion of CNG refilling and electric charging stations.

 

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Naira falls to N1,515/$ on parallel market

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Naira falls to N1,515/$ on parallel market

The Naira yesterday depreciated in the parallel market to N1,515 per dollar from N1,495 per dollar on Wednesday.

Similarly, the Naira depreciated to N1,485.66 per dollar in the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, NAFEM
Data from FMDQ showed that the indicative exchange rate for NAFEM rose to N1,485.66 per dollar from N1,462.59 per dollar on Wednesday, indicating N23.07 depreciation for the naira.
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The market recorded an intraday high of N1,510 per dollar and an intraday low of N1,401 per dollar, resulting in a bearing of N109 per dollar.

The volume of dollars traded (turnover) increased by 35.7 percent to $167.55 million from $123.45 million on Wednesday.
Consequently, the margin between the parallel market and NAFEM rates narrowed to N29.34 per dollar from N33.59 per dollar on Wednesday.

Naira falls to N1,515/$ on parallel market

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