Senate intervenes in N420bn owed contractors by works ministry

The Senate on Friday said it would intervene in the Federal Ministry of works debt profile totalling N420 billion which it owes contractors.

The upper Chamber indicated this at the 2022 budget defence chaired by Senator Adamu Aliero when the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola appeared before the panel.

Senators lauded the Federal government’s effort at tackling infrastructural deficit across the nation, saying if there was intervention by the Chamber for the Ministry to carry out its responsibility, they were ready to cooperate.

The Minister of Works had earlier given the federal lawmakers details of effort put on road projects being constructed across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Fashola also disclosed that the Ministry was owing contractors to the tune of N420 billion.

The liability he explained, is far above the N350 billion projected for funding of road projects in the 2022 budget.

Aside the N420 billion outstanding debts owed contractors, the Minister also told the lawmakers that there is a need for a N45 billion emergency fund for road repairs on a yearly basis as done in other countries.

“For roads to be in good shape at any time of the year for users, in Britain for example intervention from a special fund, is made to put roads in good shape particularly after Winter.

“Here in Nigeria, since the raining season is the period roads and bridges used to have problems, funds for emergency fixing of any affected one should be put in place which may be between the radius of N45 billion”.

Worried by the position of the Ministry as far as execution of road projects and payment for contracts are concerned, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central), told the Minister that the National Assembly will intervene in raising the N420billion owed contractors.

“This committee and that of the House of Representatives will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly for needed collaboration with the executive on how to raise the money and offset the debt.

“The N350billion proposed for road projects in the 2022 budget should be used for completion of the ones that are up to 70% execution across the country.

“Road sector is very important and vital in evaluating the performance or otherwise of any government, the very reason the federal government should continue with the massive road projects being executed across the country.

“Honourable Minister, for us in this committee and by extension, the Senate, the tempo should be sustained in presenting concrete things to Nigerians in 2023 for the purpose of election.

“We shall from this end collaborate with the executive for an emergency fund to clear the N420 billion liability as required motivation for key players in the sector to do more”, he said.

Earlier the Minister in his submission on the 2022 budget, said a total of N450 billion was proposed for the Ministry and its Parastatals for capital, overhead and personnel estimates.

According to him, the focus of the 2022 Budget Proposals of the Ministry is on the completion of some priority road projects, especially those on Route A1 – A9.

“These are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs and carry Heavy goods vehicles across the six geo-political zones “, he said.

He specifically informed that the second Niger Bridge will be completed next year.

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