By Bankole Wright
Senate has said Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatujde Fashola was spreading wrong information about the 2017 budget.
Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi in a statement said Fashola did not give the public full details about the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which has been on a private finance initiative from the beginning.
He said the Bureau of Public Procurement, and the Federal Executive Council in 2013, approved the reconstruction, rehabilitation and expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway as a Public Private Partnership project using the Private Finance Initiative, with the Federal Government providing about 30 percent of the funding.
“Even as at last year the 2016 Appropriation Act voted N40 billion for the project on the insistence of the Ministry and only N26 billion was released. If we had known, the rest N14 billion could have been allocated to other critical roads across the country”, he said.
“In the spirit of consensus building and effective stakeholder engagement, the Leadership of the Senate met with key relevant stakeholders, including the Ministries of Works and finance. It was agreed that we should give the Private Finance Initiative a chance to complement Government’s resources in the delivery of critical infrastructure assets across the country.
“Hence, in this year’s budget, we have engaged with the Government and private sector groups who have assured that they will resume funding of the project. So, we only provided the fund in the budget that would ensure work does not stop before the funds from the private sector start coming in .What we reduced from Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the 2017 budget estimate was spread on Oyo-Ogbomoso road in the South-west, Enugu-Onitsha road in the South-east, and two other critical roads in the North-east and North-west; and this was done to achieve equity. The Minister should realise he is Minister for the entire country and not just that of Lagos State.
“It is our view that the Federal Government cannot fund the reconstruction and maintenance of all the 34,000 kilometres of roads under its care. We are looking for private funds for some of these roads, particularly those with high potentials of attracting private investors. These include the Enugu-Onitsha road, Kano-Abuja road and Abuja-Lokoja road. It has been our hope that the Lagos -Ibadan road would be a model for private sector funding of infrastructure in the country”, the spokesman stated.
He said the Minister knows that the government cannot fully fund the project.