The Minister of Works, David Umahi, yesterday asked the National Assembly to release over N650m it withheld for some projects across the country.
He said the projects were almost completed but lack of the fund was still keeping the contractors on site.
Umahi, at a press conference in Abuja, said the way Nigeria’s budgetary allocation was designed was not encouraging for contractors to complete road projects. He said release of funds to contractors on an annual basis made road projects to linger as in most cases, the contractor accessed little.
“When you give a contractor N150m a year for N600m road project, he’ll pocket it while mobilising to site without doing anything on ground. When confronted, he’ll say he’s yet to get the material he requested for outside the country as the money was not enough.”
He encouraged Nigerians to plant cash crops across road corridors to prevent kidnappings.
“Nigerians must get value for their taxes, road is everything, where we are having kidnapping is on the spot where roads are bad, we should remove the bushes and plant cash crop, it is ideal and acceptable and we should replicate it in all parts of the country. It’ll remove the kidnappings,” he said.
Umahi said construction of concreate road would not be enforced on projects awarded already. He, however, said contractors would need to give assurance that roads built with asphalt would last up to 30 years even though the concrete roads would last longer.
“We are not stopping asphalt works but it is not possible to be paying the job that we know will not stand for five years. Contractors hide under funny excuse of overloading for road not standing long.”
He said the operations of the Federal Road Management Agency would be reviewed to “ensure that any intervention in states would be done with the input of the state government to know the roads with top priority.”