By Lawrence Olaoye
The federal government has lamented that host communities in the country are frustrating its efforts to deliver infrastructural projects across the country by making incessant demands for compensation.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday alongside his Information and Culture, Sports and Youth Development counterparts, the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola said the demands for compensation by hostile communities have led to several uncompleted projects across the country.
Responding to question on the poor state of Nigerian roads despite a plethora of approvals by the Council, Fashola blamed a funding gap saying most times funds are not made available to contractors to execute the projects when awarded.
He said that even though roads contracts worth N300 billion were awarded by his ministry last year, releases made to his ministry fell short of the sum.
He added that his office was yet to get funds since his reappointment as minister for second term as paper works were still ongoing.
According to Fashola, some of the ongoing projects in his ministry were being executed by the contractors based on goodwill even as criticism a continued to trail borrowing in their first tenure.
Stressing the need for communities to support government efforts at building road facilities across the country, the minister lamented that compensation demanded by host communities in the construction of the Second Niger Bridge had risen to N10 billion.
“Getting FEC approvals is one half of the story, but we don’t get all of the cash. Even the local communities are not helping issues.
“As we speak, some people are asking us to pay N10 billion now as compensation for the 2nd Niger bridge.
There is a gap between infrastructure needs and income. People are also complaining that government is borrowing too much,” he lamented.
“We have heard that funds have been released, but we are yet to get anything. I have not received any money since I came to office, this time around,” the minister added.
Speaking further on abandoned projects, Fashola equally blamed “obsolete rates, under budgeting and underfunding” as major factors.
Responding to the claims that the government abandoned about 20,000 by the National Assembly, Fashola said “I think first of all it is important we all speak the same language. There is a clear distinction between uncompleted and abandoned projects. First of all my ministry does not have 20,000 projects. The right question should be what are we doing about completing projects? One of the things we have done is finding out why projects are not completed. In some cases the rates have become obsolete so the price range has changed, cement price has changed, the change rate has changed, inflation has gone into the quantity it was awarded before it came.
So, we are trying to resuscitate some of those projects because we know that the contractors will not go back to work if the pricing is not right.”
The Minister also disclosed that the FEC yesterday approved a total of N8.2 billion for roads projects.
He said two of the approvals were to revise the estimates of cost to enable the contractors continue work.
He said Council approved N519 million revision of contract sum of Oba Nnewi Okigwe Road to cater for change in cost of materials since the project was awarded in 2009. The contract sum was revised from N3.7 to N4.3 billion.
The council also the revised cost of N2.052 billion for 67 kilometers Alasi-Ugep road in Cross Riverstate. The council approved a revision from N9.16 billion to 11.22 billion.
Fashola added that the Council approved the change of contractor for the Chachangi bridge linking Takum and Wukari in Taraba State and rewarded at the cost of N2.132 billion.
Council also approved Katsina Ala bridge at the cost of N3.576 billion, which include total bridge repairs, changing of expansion joints, changing of bearings and rehabilitation of the 3.2 kilometers access road at Ugbema junction in Benue State.