The Federal Government has said N7,430,336,544,574.86 is needed to complete 854 highways and bridge projects across the six geo-political zones in the country.

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Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stated this, yesterday, when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Works, to defend the 2022 budget estimates of the ministry.

Fashola added that as at October 20, 2021, the government has outstanding payment of N420,583,705,963.48 to contractors “for duly certified and approved works.”

Consequently, he cautioned against commencing new road projects at the moment so that efforts will be concentrated on the completion of ongoing road projects across the country.

The minister said the major challenge militating against early completion of ongoing road projects in the country is insufficient budgetary allocations and releases.

According to him, “we appropriate for a very token amount for a project of certain quantum, now once the award is done, the question of financing becomes a challenge. With the inflation and everything, there must come a time and I think that time is now; Mr. Chairman and honourable members, enough of new roads and new projects.

“Let us concentrate our limited resources to complete or progress some of what we have started. In finding the solution, I will be happy; there are a couple of roads in Osun State and we cannot finish all of them in one budget circle.

“If the parliamentarians from each state can come together and say, this is priority project for us and decide that let us move our zonal intervention project and say this is what we want to achieve; it is an honest conversation we must have.

“That is one solution, there may be other and it includes finding ways to increase the revenue of government because some of the ways these have been supplanted have been borrowing, deficit budget and it has become a matter of concern in the public space.”

Fashola noted that the focus of the ministry in the 2022 fiscal year would be the completion of ongoing road projects, especially those leasing to ports and major agricultural hubs.

He said: “The ministry is currently undertaking 854 highway contracts at a total contract sum of N7,430,336,544,574.86 spread over the six geo-political zones in the country. These are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs and carry heavy goods vehicles across the six geo-political zones.

“In view of the wide disparity between the actual 2022 indicative cost of execution of highway projects of N1,384,622,535,379.62 and the actual budget envelope of N282,636,433,510.69, the prioritisation of funding in the 2022 budget becomes imperative in order to make an appreciable impact.

“Secondly, the ministry has identified some strategic road projects that have already attained some appreciable percentage completion and slated them for completion within the period 2021 to 2023.”

The minister explained that the government intends to fund the ongoing through the Presidential Infrastructure Fund, Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, the Sovereign Sukuk Fund, Multilateral Loans among others.