Road crashes killing more than Covid, malaria, says Fasola
By Egena Sunday Ode
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the resumption of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) land swap initiative that began under the previous administration.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, disclosed this at the end of the council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This was as his Power and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fasola declared that road crashes have killed more than a combination of Covid-19 and malaria, saying that government was set to tackle the menace.
The land swap initiative which was said to be worth about N1 trillion was designed to remedy the infrastructure deficit in the federal capital by swapping land with private investors who would in turn provide commensurate infrastructure.
The resumption of the infrastructure deal, according to the Minister, got FEC’s approval following a memo he presented to the council.
He said some amendments were made to the original form of the initiative by establishing a legal framework to protect all parties.
Bello said: “Today, at the Federal Executive Council meeting, I presented a memo and an update on the FCT Land Infrastructure Swap Initiative at the council. And after a lot of deliberations, the Federal Executive Council approved the FCT Land Infrastructure Swap initiative, which is popularly known as Land Swap, which was started sometime ago by previous FCT administration.
“After a review of what has transpired over the years, and changes made, the Federal Executive Council approved that we now continue with the land swap initiative on the basis of amendments to the procedures as well as new safeguards introduced so that investors, the FCT, that is the government, as well as off-takers will be protected. So, this is what we discussed today.”
On the key provisions of the initiative, the FCT Minister explained that the deal is an initiative between the FCT administration and the private sector that would ensure provision of infrastructure to develop the districts in the territory.
He noted that under it, the private investors will provide all the infrastructure within a particular district and then they will be paid for with land.
“They will take a certain percentage of the land developable within that district, while the FCT administration will take a certain percent.
“The whole essence is to encourage the development of the city according to the masterplan in designated districts and then, of course, to also to resolve the issue of compensation and payments and relocation of people as the city grows, and then of course, to reduce the overall housing deficit within the FCT. So, basically, this is the background.
“And what we have approved today is to establish a very solid legal system, whereby all the parties in this transaction are protected. And who are the parties, the first party is the investor, the second party is the FCT administration, while the third party are the off-takers.
“And in so doing, investors will create a special purpose vehicle, whereby the investors will come in and then the quantum of the investment will be determined on the basis of which the financial institutions will provide financial guarantees to the administration through performance bonds.
“And this performance bond will cover the totality of the project, and will be reducing as the project is being delivered.
“And then the land that is going to be used as swapping for the investment that is going to be held in custody by designated financial institution, which will serve as the custodian. Because, of course, as milestones are being achieved, land will be released to the investors which, obviously, they will sell and use to pay for their investment. So, this is the whole concept,” Bello added.
He also informed that idea of reviewing the agreement was to bring in “conditionalities that protects everybody, and all these are done based on the experience of the administration over the last few years regarding previous investments done particularly using the mass housing housing model, which is really in terms of size is just a fraction of what we are talking.
“So, this is the whole essence, this is what we intend to start rolling out now based on the conditions approved to the effect.”
Also speaking at the briefing, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said he presented a note to the council on the need to be conscious of the increased number of road traffic crashes on federal highways, saying that the majority of accidents are not caused by bad roads.
He said the Lagos-Ibadan Highway, the Abuja-Kano Highway, and Abuja-Keffi-Lafia Highway, have the highest cumulative number of road accidents, saying that for the month of January 2021, more people died of road accidents than COVID-19 and malaria combined.
Fashola said: “So, we saw that this was something that needed to be focused on. We saw that for the month of January, the number of people who died from road crashes exceeded the combined numbers of people who died from malaria and COVID together for the same month.
“While COVID and malaria were receiving national concerted attention, perhaps it was necessary to bring this to the attention of government as part of our strategy for protecting life and property.
“So, we identified the need for various actions to be taken from municipal, local government level to state and national level.”
He said the process is on to reduce road accidents in federal highways including the installation of road traffic signs and more patrol.
He added: “We are looking at also putting speed metres on the highway. There is a combination of factors and we are also trying to educate drivers. We saw that the biggest factor for these accidents from overspeeding, loss of control, wrongful overtaking, brake failure, tyre blowing out points to the role of the driver.
“Consistently over the years and this data is available. The impact of bad roads and accidents was less than 2%. As big as that may be, it is less than 2%.
“These factors I have mentioned; overspeeding, loss of control, wrongful overtaking cumulate to over 70%. If we reduce this, we bring the numbers down.”