There is no gainsaying that rural development in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has suffered a lot of setback in the face of competing attention for funding from the FCT Administration (FCTA). This persists, in spite of the existence of Satellite Towns Development Agency (STDA)to cater for the infrastructural needs of the rural areas just as the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) does on the 250,000sqkm Federal Capital City (FCC). But, STDA’s Director, Tukur Bakori, in this recent chat with select journalists on the agency’s efforts at completing the myriads of uncompleted projects in the rural communities, hints on completion of major projects very soon. Stanley Onyekwere reports. Excerpts:
Could you tell us the mandate of STDA?
Satellite Town Development Agency (STDA) was established to improve on the quality of life of the satellite towns settlers. If you have had time to visit some of the areas that we have put infrastructure you would have seen the quality of infrastructure that we have. Instead of the underground drainages we have open drains; instead of underground cablings of the electricity, we have the high tensionand so on. And you know the city is over 30 years old the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), and the Territory is over 30 years old. And the STDA is just about five to six years old. So you do not expect miracle because we need that 30 years exposure, before you will see the magnitude of work in the FCT replicated in the Satellite towns. What we have done to the satellite towns. People should understand that there is not much money and there are a lot of competing demands for the scarce resources. But the government is really interested in providing infrastructure in the satellite towns.
For your information, the transformation agenda of the President has touched the satellite towns because this year, he has approved the allocation of N13bn to satellite Towns Development Agency to enable us exit a number of our projects that are on-going. So we need people to be patients and bear with us.
Beside the budgetary allocation for the development of satellite towns, is the STDA thinking of exploring other avenues to expand and accelerate provision of critical infrastructure in the satellite towns?
When the FCDA started, there was no public private partnership (PPP). This model started some few years back. And don’t forget the new STDA is just about two years old. We need to understudy the best way to fund some of our projects. Suffice to say that while that is on-going the African development Bank (AfDB) is interested in also supporting us. AfDB loan is a long time loan and funding interest is very low. We are trying to access a loan of about $300m, in order to address issues like waste integrated system.
At the moment we just collect waste and we do not have a way of managing it. If you look at the Nyanya settlement, the Labour camp, to be specific, The UN habitat stopped the Federal government from selling off those houses, because it is not fit for human habitation. And we are trying to use part of that loan to relocate the settlement. That will be done in a way that the transformation agenda of the president will be seen clearly.We are looking at that possibility of exploring PPP initiative, but we have to stamp our feet on the ground before we start going into things without running into issues due to lack of preparedness.
What are the leading projects of the STDA in the satellite towns?
When the satellite towns were first created, the Jikwoyi-Karshi road was not dualized. That is one of our project that has been completed, we have the Karshi to Apo road that is on-going and it will be augmented by the SURE-P funds we have gotten. We have the Kuje-Gwagwaladaroad that are ongoing and the first phase of the Kuje-Gwagwalada road is going to be awarded this year.
But how true is it that the Kuje-Gwagwaladais abandoned?
No, Not at all! I need to talk about the Kuje-Gwagwalada road because a lot of questions are being asked the total length of that road is about 16 kilometers. The first road was broken into two phases. The first part of it was awarded. Phase one is about 6 km from Gwagwalada end of the road. The other phase from Kuje, you have about 11km that is the one that is on-going. People tend to mix things up on that road once they ply that road they say the road has been abandoned. It has not been abandoned. It is the second phase that is on-going and forms the critical part of the road that is the 10km stretch from Kuje that we are talking about. The remaining six kilometers that has not been done is the one that is going to be awarded and SURE-P is going to fund all of that stretch of that road. As soon as the SURE-P fund gets to our hand you will see the wonders on that road.
If you go to the township road of some of the satellite towns like Kuje, all of the township roads that have been awarded are completed. If you go to Gwagwalada town, not the village, you will find that most of the projects there have gone about 70 percent. In Kubwa a lot have been done and in terms of the road infrastructure, I do not think that they have problems. The infrastructure is about 80% completion. Karshi District 1, 2, 3 and 4 that we are doing, the infrastructure there is almost 60 percent. What is slowing our projects is funding, and this funding challenge is not only affecting the satellite towns. Governments, at all levels have their projects suffering for competing demands. I know that the President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Minister are doing their best respectively to ensure allocation of scarce resources to competing demands amongst which is the STDA to see that we impact on the lives of the people. What we have done is to prioritize our projects because of this lack of funding. It made us achieve that I have mentioned to you. That is not to say that the ones we have put down the ladder are not important. We felt that the ones that have immediate and extended impact should be done first to ease the living conditions of the people in such areas; this is what administration is all about- attending to issues with wider benefits for the good of all. Most of these projects I’m talking about, we are trying to exit them and they are the ones that need more money to exit, because they have reached appreciable level that most of them would be done by next year.
On the N13bn, by next year, you will see the impact it will make. On our ongoing projects our liability is almost over N50bn. If we get N13bn, I think the government has tried. It is not only the STDA that has needs for ongoing infrastructure projects requiring cash attention. If you view this against competing demands facing the federal government. You see that the Approval of N13bn by the president for the STDA shows the commitment to improve the quality of life in the satellite towns. Wasa site which is meant for the affordable housing issue, the Government from the SURE-P funding is committing N4.2bn which is only 15 percent of the total cost of the project. For the Gidan Daya, where we are going to relocate the Nyanya Labour camp residents, the government is committing another N6.2bn there. So that we will improve the life of the people residing in Nyanyan, that also, is 15 percent of the total project. Then, the rehabilitation of the 6km Gwagwalada road that has not been awarded, the FG is committing funding through the SURE-P for the whole of that stretch at N920m the balance of the works left on the 11km needs only N330m and SURE-P is funding that project as well. Then there is the extension of Karshi – Apo road. I am happy to tell you that SURE-P is funding that road too with funding of N1.8bn. The present percentage of the job is about 48 percent this amount will complete it.
Are you saying that by the end of 2015 that road will be completed?
Well depending on the weather, you know that construction work is slowed down by the rains. But I guarantee you that with this funding we have in the spirit of the President Goodluck Transformation Agenda, God willing we should exit all these projects except the provision of infrastructure to Wasa and Gidan Daya. Also, the Mpape-Galiyu-Shere, the SURE-P is injecting N700m there. The Fund is injecting the huge resources there is because it is a resettlement site where the indigenes are going to be resettled. The amount is going to jerk the project from 21 percent completion to 90 percent completion. This is because the statutory budget is going to augment the balance 10 percent of the fund. Pache road, which has just been awarded, the SURE-P is putting about N200m there. This is to ease the traffic flow for people going to Nasarawa and coming into the city, the road will support them.