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N18.6trn required for road infrastructure in four years – Umahi

The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi has said that N18.6 trillion is needed to fix the road sector in the next four years.

He said this on Wednesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation to defend the N300 billion for the Ministry of Works from the N2.176 trillion supplementary budget.

Umahi also appealed to the National Assembly for the provision of contingency funds for the Ministry to deal with emergency situations as it pertains to the roads.

He reiterated his earlier call for the construction of concrete roads, saying it is less expensive and more durable.
He said the request for the 2023 supplementary budget became necessary to restore some of the funds removed from the 2022 supplementary appropriation in order to enhance project completion and provide emergency repair works on failed sections roads.

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Umahi said the sum of N300 billion proposed for the Ministry of Works is targeted especially to the highway sectors to ensure free flow of traffic on federal road networks especially as the yuletide approaches.

“On the whole, to address our road sector for the four years, we would be needing about N18.6 trillion and so the National Assembly must have to wear its thinking cap on how we can address seriously our road sector. I also appeal to the NASS that the executive to respect your motions on certain interventions. We must have a contingency fund.

“When you ask me to go and intervene on certain roads which have collapsed, and I have to liken the situation to a man on life support. The man needs immediate attention. Where there is an emergency the road is cut and the people are suffering, movement is stopped, it needs an emergency. So we appeal for contingency to respect your directives on fixing emergency situations,” he said.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who also appeared before the committee to defend N18 billion allocated to the Commission from the supplementary budget said it would be used for personnel emoluments and the conduct of off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo States.

He said N13.8 billion is for personnel emoluments; N1.4 billion to augment the conduct of elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo N1.6 billion for the conduct of 11 by-elections for the national and State Assemblies.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abuabakar Kyari, who got N200 billion from the supplementary budget said N104.8 billion is for capital projects while 95.2 billion is for expenditure.

Giving a breakdown, he said, “We had a challenge of Anthrax, we had a disease that has threatened some states and if care is not taken it can wipe out livestock and it can be transferred to humans. It is important that it should be taken care of and we also have transboundary migratory pests like locusts so we have budgeted N9.1 billion for that purpose. In addition there is the issue of the strategic food reserve. So an amount of N25.5 billion has been earmarked for this.

“Also the provision of seeds and seedlings and other agric inputs for each zone of the country to the tune of N11.7 billion per zone. The National Agricultural Growth Scheme earmarked support for this at N25 billion. For the coming rainy season in 2024 we earmarked 11.7 billion per zone for the six zones of the country”, he said.

He stressed the need to provide adequate security for farmers.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, who got N100 billion said N3.4 is earmarked for security equipment.

He also said the money would be used for the completion of the Abuja rail project among other infrastructure.

“Of course, there are infrastructure needs which have been abandoned before I came on board and these infrastructures need to be completed now that we have the dry season coming. When I came on board, I had to make some of these contractors like Julius Berger, to go back to work

“I believe that before we enter the rainy season next year this infrastructure and roads would have been completed. Again, talking about the completion of rehabilitation and take off of the Abuja rail project. You will agree with me that this project that Mr. President takes so important, and which will help in decongesting our traffic situation.

“I’ve been there as I came on board and Mr. President directed the day the Nigerian Bar Association held their annual conference that he wants to ride on this metro line, at least in his one year in office and which I think with your support we are going to achieve it.

“The amendment I want to make is this. Yes, it provided for N22 billion. Our problem is the dollar component of the project. You know this project was awarded in Naira and Dollar components.

“Right now, the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is saying that they need their $7 million component. I will plead if it is possible with this 22bn if looking at the differentials, if we can provide for the dollar component of $7 million and whatever that is remaining will be the Naira component. This is because we tried to pay them in Naira but they said that the contract was in Dollar and Naira components.”

Other ministers who appeared before the committee gave justifications for their submissions and solicited the support of the National Assembly for passage of the supplementary budget.

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