The President Bola Tinubu administration has said that the Muhammadu Buhari administration left it with at least N14 trillion worth of road projects totaling about 2,604 projects and spanning 18,000 kilometers.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Works Dave Umahi while briefing correspondents at the presidential villa in Abuja during the weekend.
He stated: “The ministry inherited a total of 2,604 projects, worth N14tn and for 18,000 kilometers of road, that’s what we had.”
He said since assumption of office on August 21, his ministry has already paid N4 trillion of the N14 trillion owed to contractors constructing various road projects nationwide, adding: “Between when we came on board and now, about N4tn has been paid. And so that is a balance of N10tn remaining.”
He noted that while the ministry has identified funding sources to offset N4 trillion of its outstanding debts to contractors, there was still a problem with the N6 trillion balance.
Umahi said some of the road projects which have been delayed for years would be terminated because they were never appropriated for.
He explained: “Now, in this N10tn, we have defined sources that could fund up to N4tn. So, we have a funding gap of about N6tn. That is what is there now.
“We have a number of programs for road development under the previous administration. We inherited all the projects; we have not dropped any of them. But curious to know that some of these projects have lasted for 20 years, some 10 years. In fact, in most cases, they were never appropriated throughout every tenure.
“So I went to seek Mr. President’s nod so that I will be able to terminate some of the projects that have stayed up to 10 years without any defined source of funding.”
He regretted the piecemeal approach to the release of funds for the implementation of federal roads which he said incapacitates contractors.
He said he had urged Tinubu to engage with the National Assembly to priotitise projects.
“Just look at over 2600 projects, 18,000 kilometers of roads, and N14 trillion. That is huge! And the worrisome part of this is that even the ones that are being funded properly, the roads hardly last up to five years,” Umahi lamented.
He noted that the short lifespan of roads necessitated his recent proposal to the President to redesign and construct yet-to-be-completed federal roads using reinforced concrete.
“So I briefed Mr. President on what we are doing by introducing reinforced concrete technology for our road pavements,” he added.
The former Ebonyi State Governor vowed to fight entities poised to frustrate this plan, saying: “I know that there are a lot of fights from contractors, but I’m David, I’m known for fight and I will fight this because I’ve reported myself to Mr. President.
He said he had received the President’s backing on his plan to construct concrete roads rather than the usual bitumen.
Umahi said: “Incidentally, Mr. President is also an infrastructure guru. And he fully supports that we should use reinforced concrete for our road pavements.
“So there is no other place you can report me other than to report me to God. So Mr. President is supporting me that way. We’ll redesign our roads in reinforced concrete pavement.
“I’m aware that the contractors have been quarreling and arguing. So, I want to declare that I’m open to any kind of blackmail, but my eyes are on the ball. And my eyes are on how we can get Nigerians to have value for the money. That is the assignment President Bola Tinubu gave to me. And I’m going to do that with the fear of God.”
On the East-West road that President Tinubu has promised to complete, the Minister revealed that he had written the NNPC to release monies for the East-West Road, saying, “I know that’s what the Rivers people mentioned when they came to see Mr. President. So that road is going to be on concrete.”
He said he would now focus on the South West, particularly Lagos State, where works are ongoing on the Third Mainland Bridge, Carter Bridge, Liverpool Bridge, the Eko Bridge and Marine Bridge.
“I want to see things for myself and appraise the ongoing projects. I want to see who is doing a good job and who is doing a bad job. So I briefed Mr. President about that,” he added.