- The Nigerian Ministry of Works has proposed to spend naira 29.5 billion (euro 172 million) to complete ongoing highway construction and rehabilitation projects in 2004. The Ministry says it first wants to complete the many ongoing highway projects "before commencing new ones." Also road maintenance is currently being strengthened.
Nigeria's Minister of Works, Senator Kingsley Adeseyi Ogunlewe, stated this on Monday, at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, while defending his Ministry's budget estimates. Here, he presented the proposed budget of naira 29.5 billion in 2004 for the highways.
Senator Ogunlewe stated that out of the sum of naira 55.3 billion (euro 323 million) provided for Federal Highways in 2003 Appropriation Act, only naira 19 billion (euro 111 million) was released last year.
The corresponding amount of outstanding certificates awaiting payment as at 31 December 2003, the Minister said, was naira 42.084 billion (euro 245.69 million). This amount, he said as at today has increased to naira 44.071 billion (euro 257.32 million).
Mr Ogunlewe disclosed that there are 36 ongoing federal projects with 70 percent completion while mandatory advance payment necessary for work to continue on some other crucial on-going projects are yet to be made by the federal government of Nigeria.
The projects affected included Owerri-Onitsha road dualisation, construction of Kaduna Eastern Bypass, construction of Bodo-Bonny road, construction of Itigidi Bridge and Funtua-Dayi-Yasha-KNSB road.
Also highway maintenance is to be improved. The Minister of Works earlier this month had tasked state controllers of works in the 36 states of the Nigerian federation to embark on road maintenance in their states. If not, Senator Ogunlewe said two weeks ago, the responsible ones at local authorities would be dismissed.
The Abuja government earlier this month had allocated considerable amounts to the controllers of all Nigerian states - between naira 10 and 20 million and (euro 60,000 to 120,000) to each state. Mr Ogunlewe did not hide his dissatisfaction with maintenance work done by some state controllers so far.
Nigerian's road network was said to rank among the best in the world only some 20 years ago. Very poor maintenance, increased traffic and population and poor highway construction budget however have led to a certain decay of the national road network.
According to Minister Ogunlewe, lack of road maintenance by previous administrations has by now led to an almost complete collapse of the federal road infrastructure, which has further been compounded by inadequate funding of highway capital projects. These negative trends, promises the Minister, are now to be turned around.
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