The Nigerian Government at the weekend reiterated its commitment to making sure that all the roads financed under the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme are completed and delivered as scheduled.
The Director Highways, Construction and Rehabilitation, Engr. Folorunso Esan, stated this at the inspection of the ongoing dualisation of Suleja- Minna highway, Phase I and II; and the reconstruction of Lambata -Lapai-Bida road in Niger State which are among the critical roads to be financed under the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme.
In a statement signed by Boade Akinola, Director, Press and Public Relations, the Director said, “I am here to see that they have improved on their mobilisation and they are working.”
Esan noted that adequate fund has been released to the contractors through the governance process established to ensure prompt delivery of the road projects, adding that no contractor has any reason not to deliver as scheduled.
It would be recalled that during the presentation of the symbolic cheque for the 21 roads by the NNPC in the presence of all stakeholders and the media on December 21, 2021 the Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola in his remarks said that a governance process was being put in place and that the governance process requires the Ministry to do certification of the certificates for jobs done promptly within five days.
The Minister added on that occasion that as soon as the certificates were certified they would be escalated to the NNPC which would be required to pay within 30 days and that the staff of the Ministry has certain number of days within which to act to certify the certificates.
The Minister also gave assurance then that all the unpaid certificates that were in existence before the scheme was approved and all the certificates that budget provisions were inadequate to pay, would be paid as from signing of the contract with the NNPC adding that what it meant was that there would be money to pay the contractors who would in turn pay their suppliers of construction materials in the chain of distribution of wealth across the divide.
The Ministry has therefore clarified that given the governance process put in place for the scheme it was impossible for the Ministry officials or any other person to “hijack” the funds for any other purpose as was recently alleged in some quarters. It also noted that with many of the construction companies just resuming from the yuletide break, work has resumed on the sites with earth works progressing.
Engr. Esan disclosed that the inspection team was among others reasons, on sites to prevail on the contractors to accelerate their work speed to ensure early completion and delivery of the roads because these are major road networks with heavy traffic flow in the North Central region connecting towns and cities within the region, South Western states and other regions in Nigeria.
The Director, while expressing satisfaction about the volume of work done on the sites, said that the Ministry would carry out the appropriate tests to determine the quality and the durability of the construction work on roads to ensure compliance with acceptable standards.
Esan pleaded with road users especially truck drivers to be patient with the government and construction workers as they ply the roads while construction work is going on because managing traffic and doing construction work on the roads is bound to slow down the pace of work, assuring them that the challenged spots would be taken care of to address the outcry of tanker and truck drivers.
“We are expecting that before the rainy season, all the challenged spots will be addressed so that outcry from the truck and tanker drivers will not be there,” he added.
The Director, however, assured Nigerians of speedy completion and delivery of the roads as scheduled despite the heavy vehicular movement on the roads, noting that inadequate funding which used to be a major challenge has been permanently solved through the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme because the Corporation would fund the road projects to their completion.
He added that the Suleja-Minna dualization which was projected to be completed in January 2024 would be completed much earlier due to the availability of fund.
On the Bida- Lapai-Lambata road, the Federal Controller of Works, Niger State, Engineer Samotu Moshood, explained that 46kms amounting to 36 percent of the work has been completed and before the rainy season commences, the work is projected to have extended to Lapai which would be additional 60kms, and the extension would continue to Agaie, another 80kms before the end of the year 2022.
The length of the road is 124.81kms which commenced from Lambata town passing through Lapai – Agaie and terminating at Bida.
“The construction of the road is very imperative to link the Bida-Mokwa section already completed under the World Bank due to the importance of the segment of the federal highway being a major link for vehicular traffic from the South West to the North Central part of the country and beyond,” said the Controller of Works in the State.
The Project Manager of Messrs. Salini Nigeria Limited, Engineer Daniel Kassa, the contractor handling the Suleja-Minna Road, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for selecting the project to be among the beneficiaries of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme.
He disclosed that the company had been fully mobilized to the sites with adequate funds and assured Nigerians of accelerated speed on the work to enable it complete the road and deliver as scheduled.
Kassa added that the federal government does not owe them anymore as the debt has been cleared.
Also, Project Manager China Global Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Chen Xian, the contractor handling the Bida-Lapai-Lambata highway revealed that the Federal Government has fully mobilized his company to the site.
Xian who lamented that scarcity of water, was currently a hindrance to the progress of their work with the onset of dry season, assured road users that the troubled spots would have been worked upon before the rainy season because a means of supplying water to the site would be found, adding that the entire job would be completed and delivered by December, 2022.
Musa Adamu and Gbenga Durojaye, who are truck drivers passing during the inspection were elated at the commencement of the work on Bida-Lapai-Lambata road and urged the Federal Government to ensure speedy completion of the road as it would enable smooth driving and reduce the hours of travelling to the barest minimum