Senate Demands Removal of Speed Bumps on Federal Highways

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday demanded immediate removal of speed bumps indiscriminately erected on federal highways nationwide.

The order was given to Ministry of Power, Works and Housing headed by Babatunde Fashola, a former Lagos State governor.

In a motion moved by Barnabas Gemade, PDP-Benue and Stella Oduah, PDP-Anambra, the Senate noted that speed bumps are erected on almost all federal highways by whoever wanted, thereby causing agony for road users.

Details later…..…

EDITORIAL: The Return Of Tolls On Our Roads

 

Again last week, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola informed a visiting delegation of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) about the plans of the federal government to bring back the payment of tolls on highways for their maintenance. Earlier in July, the Senate had in addition, proposed the setting aside of 0.5 per cent of fares paid by passengers on inter-state trips to generate funds for the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads in the country. Also known to be on the cards is the road fund from tax on every litre of fuel sold, ring-fenced exclusively for road infrastructure development.

We share in the broad premise that the current funding mechanisms for road infrastructure maintenance have become inadequate. In fact, the state of dilapidation of the nation’s road network are such that the entire annual federal government budget would be to no more than an inconsequential droplet in the famished land to fix. With recurring budgets coming in trickles, increasingly, over the years, and with corruption and institutional lethargy denying the sector benefit of the funds annually appropriated, the outcome is what has rendered the motoring experience a nightmare.  

We must admit that the current cycle of slump in oil prices have made the proposals urgent and compelling. Although we do not pretend that the proposal would necessarily solve the entire funding problem, it is nonetheless a pragmatic way out in the current circumstance.

Now, the issue is that the country can do with new sources of revenue to fund the road sector. Of that, there can be no doubt. The debate has always been the form as well as the shape of the funds to come and the question of who to bear the burden. As, far as we can see, there is no controversy about the citizens deserving a new motoring experience, which in our view is best guaranteed with sustainable funding. Even now, we are aware of the moves to get the private sector involved in the provision of road infrastructure. 

Therefore, if we agree in principle that our annual budgets are no longer adequate to fund road development with its maintenance, and that the private sector will at some point come in to bridge the gaps, we might come to the point where the idea of citizens bearing a part of the burden would become less vexatious.

The idea of bringing back the tolls is therefore not lacking in merit. With Nigerians already paying premium in humongous costs of maintenance on their vehicles plying the crater-infested highways, the idea of paying tolls on better maintained roads would be a lesser evil, if it comes to making a choice. Critical here is the need for a strong independent and pro-consumer regulator to ensure fairness.

What Nigerians needs to be reassured of is that the plague of corruption which marred its earlier entry will not resurface to undermine confidence in it; and that going forward, they would have the pleasure of driving on good roads, at least pending when the current clamor for restructuring is given life and the states given the responsibility and resources to manage the roads.

Ministry Of Works Has Created 193,469 Jobs In 2 years – Fashola

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has created 193, 469 jobs, with 40,429 direct and 153,040 indirect jobs, within the two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the Town Hall Meeting to celebrate the mid-term of President Buhari’s implementation of the economy recovery and road plan.

According to him, the construction of roads, power project, housing project and macro impact on jobs is gradually increasing the purchasing power and money in the economy.

In his accounts, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said that the ministry has been able to save N53 billion from the ship building fund and through the rebranding of NIMASA.

“ We believed that more fund can be gotten for the government, from the maritime sector and the president has approved a performance audit of the maritime sector.

“ Part of the problem of the maritime is the fact that we have had issues with insecurity on our waterways and the president has approved a new security infrastructure that will reduce piracy, robbery in that sector.

“They were so many faculties of the maritime in universities when we came, we went about rebranding it and stop that contract award, that money was gotten from the ship `building fund, that fund are meant for Nigerians who built ship

“Maritime transportation are the one to access the fund to buy more vessels, we kept that money, we are saving it now, the last we had about it, we had saved N53 billion,’’ he said.
According to him, there is the need to save the country from corruption.

Amaechi said that the ministry would introduce the single window which is between Nigerian Customs and Nigeria Ports Authority to move goods within 48 hours.

He said that the ministry has awarded three contracts which are Lagos – Ibadan rail, Kano – Kaduna rail and Port Harcourt – Calabar, which were based on the loan collected from the China EXIM bank.

The minister stated that China EXIM bank has approved $1.2 billion dollars, while the Federal Government has released its own counterpart funding for Lagos – Ibadan rail, which be completed in December 2018.

Amaechi stated that work has started on Itakpe-Warri rail but the N60 billion allocated for the project was removed by the National Assembly, stating that if that was resolved, the work would be completed.

Nigeria Seeks $5.2 Billion From World Bank for Electricity

Nigeria is seeking $5.2 billion from the World Bank to expand electricity generation and help the economy recover from its first contraction in 25 years.

The bank’s private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, may invest about $1.3 billion in power projects and electricity distribution companies. Its political-risk insurer, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, could provide equity and debt of $1.4 billion for gas and solar power programs, according to Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola.

That’s in addition to loans of $2.5 billion Nigeria is seeking from the lender to help improve the distribution of power, expand transmission-capacity and increase access to electricity in rural areas, Fashola, 53, said.

“Disbursements with the World Bank are being worked out to start from around June, July this year,” Fashola said in an interview from his office in the capital, Abuja on May 4. Nigeria is asking the lender to bring forward the timetables “because next year we want to see results,” he said.

Africa’s most populous nation produces about 4,000 megawatts of power compared with a average peak generation of about 35,000 megawatts in South Africa, with a population that’s less than a third of the size of Nigeria’s 180 million people. The lack of supply increases production costs for many businesses forced to provide their own electricity, mostly using diesel-run generators. The Nigerian economy shrank 1.5 percent last year, the first full-year contraction since 1991 because of a fall in oil prices and production and dollar shortages. Gross domestic product could expand 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Fashola, who presided over several infrastructure projects in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos as its governor, was appointed last year by Buhari to boost the power industry, one of the biggest impediments to growth in the country.

Power generation and distribution companies are facing cash-flow difficulties, partly because of foreign-exchange losses, outages due to technical faults and the theft of electricity by some users, according to Fashola. In 2016, power distributors paid only 27 percent of the 331 billion naira ($1 billion) that generating companies invoiced, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Bloomberg

FG’ll employ 47,000 workers to fix roads – Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed at a stakesholders meeting organised by the Council on the Regulation on Engineering in Niheria (COREN), that the Federal Government will employ 47,000 people to fix federal roads across the country.

Fashola, who gave examples of Singapore and Canada as countries which harnessed technical/vocational education for national development assured participants that the Federal Govt already had a plan on how to implement the idea, collaborating with the legislature. He said “We, therefore, conclude that technical education systems are dynamic, the challenges are, of course, unique because human needs vary with time. So, we have to shape our educational system based on our economy. Our system must therefore be relevant and responsive. We must plan for the future and not the past.

“Now, Nigeria is investing heavily in infrastructure. In the 2016 national budget, capital allocation alone was N1.8tn, which is a jump to 30 per cent of the total budget. We are currently planning for all these infrastructure that we are building, and I’m happy that the Chairman, House Committee on Works (Mr. Toby Okechukwu) is here.

“The idea is to actually change FERMA, which is to review the FERMA law and come up with another law. The essence is that FERMA should ultimately be the biggest construction company in this country. The idea is to employ about 47,000 people just to fix roads and the plan is there. Hopefully, I’m sure that working with the House and the Senate, we will be able to get that done.”

Fashola Tells Gencos, Discos To Perform Or Face The Consequences

Worried by the slow  progress made in the power sector, the minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has charged all stakeholders in power sector to adhere strictly to all conditions in their contract with federal government or face dire consequences.

This is just as the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, at 14th  monthly meeting of Power Stakeholders Forum held yesterday at National Control Centre, NCC, Osogbo, restated its commitment to expand transmission infrastructure and improve its operation and performance within the power sector value chain. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Fashola said all investors in the power sector were aware of opportunities and challenges before entering into agreement with federal government and investing in the sector, stressing that the present administration is prepared to implement to the letters, all conditions stipulated in the contracts, signed with it by investors in the sector.

 

On government’s part, he assured investors in the sector of the commitment of the federal government towards provision of conducive environment that will enhance their businesses. Fashola, who said efforts are on to facilitate more payment of debt owed power distributors by federal government, noted that operations in power sector is largely in the hands of private operators and must be made to fulfil their mandate to Nigerians. Reading the communiqué of the meeting attended by leadership of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, and Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, representatives of  the generation companies, Gencos and distribution companies, Discos, Prof. Frank Okafor, said the meeting highlighted the issue of un-utilized load, and encouraged the industry to take necessary steps to address the problem.

 

The communiqué reads in parts: “The Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, highlighted the issue of un-utilised load, currently causing high system frequency on the national grid, and encouraged the industry to take necessary steps to address the problem. TCN restated its commitment to expand transmission infrastructure and improve its operation and performance within the power sector value chain.

 

“The Vice Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission affirmed the Federal Government’s expressed commitment to tariffs that ensure a self-sustaining power sector and to supporting NERC in applying sanctions where appropriate to ensure operators comply with the rules. “NERC highlighted the recently reconstituted commission’s focus on fair but firm regulation in the following areas: enforcing DisCo metering commitments, prepaid meters for MDAs, centralised management of market revenues collected from all customers, appropriate capitalisation of DisCos, and prudent procurement. “It urged electricity customers to play their role in the success of the industry, through the timely payment of bills, ending the vandalism of power assets, and the assault of electricity workers who seek to install or read meters.”

Source: Vanguard

Securing of Bond For Infrastructural Development In Southwest- Fashola

The Federal Government has assured that it will approach the capital market to secure bonds for the repayment of cumulative debts incurred by states on the rehabilitation of federal roads in their respective domain.

The Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made this known during a visit to the Osun state Governor, Rauf Aregbesola in Osogbo, the state capital.

Fashola who is on a five state tour of Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ogun states to assess positions of Federal Government projects, stated the ministry’s readiness to partner with state governments in order to ensure an infrastructural revolution in the country, as promised by the Buhari-led administration.

On power generation, he further stated that the Federal Government has approved the expansion of the Osogbo transmission station which should bring relief in power provision to the state and its environs.

He added that there has been an improvement in power generation across the various power plants in the country with the major challenges bearing on transmission.

Aregbesola on the other hand, thanked the minister for his visit to the project sites in the state.

He also seized the opportunity to solicit the assistance of the Federal Government in the construction of the Ilie -Ikirun -Ifelodun bridge to help assist residents in the area, particularly in creating ease for the farmers to transport agricultural produce to the towns,

Fashola Salutes Fayose, Unhappy with On-going Project in the State

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday, condemned the Federal Controller of Works in Ekiti State, Hezekiah Kehinde, for siting the ongoing national housing project in a location far from the heart of Ado Ekiti, the state capital.

The former Lagos State Governor, who visited the site in company with Governor Ayodele Fayose, and the state Commissioner for Works, Mrs Funmi Ogun, said the location of the project along the Ado-Iworoko Road was not proper – owing to the insecurity of the site.

Speaking while inspecting the housing estate being constructed by Minosa Nigeria Limited, Fashola indicted the controller over the siting of the project, saying the siting was unprofessional.

The minister, who was also taken round some of projects by the governor, noted that some of the projects were constructed along federal roads.

He added that that was the type of collaboration needed between state and federal governments.

He described the expansion of the Ado-Akure highway at Ikere Ekiti by the state government as impressive and heartwarming.

“We saw all the projects being executed by the state government; this is the kind of collaboration that the Federal Government welcomes. What is important is how much service we deliver to the people we are to serve. Of course, roads are shared among the tiers of government, but what is important is the service to the people.

“In the area of housing, the state ought to lead, but there is nothing wrong with the Federal Government coming in to support. It will create job opportunities for different categories of people and it will boost the local economy too,” he said.

The minister said the estate might be relocated to another befitting location that would give room for proximity to Ado Ekiti and ensure security of prospective occupants when completed.

“We will have to discuss a possible relocation of this place when I get to Abuja. You said you were given this site, even if this is where the government had allocated for it, I expect you to give a professional advice that this place is not likely to be suitable,” he said.

The controller, however, claimed he made frantic efforts to seek audience with Fayose for possible relocation, but the efforts were futile.

The governor described the minister’s visit as very timely, saying it came at a time when massive constructions were being undertaken along the Ado-Aramoko-Ita Ure and Ado-Ikere-Akure roads.

Faulting the claims by the controller that he visited his office, Fayose said, “You said you came to my office and you didn’t see me, why couldn’t you make effort to send a message? I was not even aware that such a project was ongoing in that far area.”

The governor said his administration had submitted outstanding bills to the Federal Government on the funds that had been expended by the state to rehabilitate federal roads.

“We have submitted our papers and I think the Federal Government will pay us when it is convenient. The minister had done on-the-spot assessments, he knows the situation and what we expect is the rehabilitation of these dilapidated roads and Ekiti is ready to partner in this regard,” he said.

Fashola Calls Ambode’s Accusations ‘Storm in a Tea Cup’

Former governor of Lagos State and minister of works, Babatunde Raji Fashola has replied his successor, Akinwunmi Ambode over the latter’s accusations that Fashola’s ministry of works had failed to expedite action in refunding the N51billion spent by the state on federal roads; was delaying Ambode’s plans to rebuild Lagos Airport-Oshodi road and also the handover of the presidential lodge in Marina.

Fashola’s ministry gave a detailed response which shockingly revealed that Ambode had spoken to Fashola just once since the official handover as governors in Lagos State.

Here is the full statement:

The attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has been drawn to certain statements credited to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode claiming that the “Federal Ministry of Works“ has been frustrating the efforts of his administration to carry out a “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi.”

The Governor also reportedly accused the “Federal Ministry of Works and Housing” and Security Services of denying the State Government access to the Presidential Lodge in Lagos six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved it off for the State.

This response is to ensure that members of the public are not misled by deliberate or inadvertent mis-statements.

The allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives are simply not true and the facts do not bear them out.

In 2016, the Hon Minister for Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, approved the use of the Federal Ministry of Works yard at Oworonsoki for Lagos State Government to create a lay-by to ease traffic.

The Hon Minister also approved that Lagos State be granted the Rights to manage the Street Lighting on the 3rd Mainland Bridge to support the security initiatives of the State, a request which the previous Federal Government administration had denied Lagos State for years.

During the same year, the Hon Minister also supported the approval of the World Bank Loan of $200 million to Lagos State, again a request the previous administration had denied Lagos State.

As far as International Airport Road which is currently the ground for alleged “frustration” is concerned, the correct position is that the Lagos State Government presented a request for FOUR roads that it would wish to take over.

This is consistent with the position being canvassed by the Hon Minister for states interested to apply to take over roads that are within their states.

The Ministry has presented the Memorandum conveying the request of the Lagos State Government to the Federal Executive Council as was done with a similar request by the Kaduna State Government in 2016.

Due to the fact that TWO of the roads also connect Ogun State, the Federal Executive Council could not reach an immediate decision on them because it requested the input of the other State Government affected.

The Kaduna State Government requested the Federal Government to transfer two roads within Kaduna Metropolis to the State in November 2015. Due process was followed and the request of the State Government was approved in August 2016, a period of ten months.

Federal Executive Council Memorandum are debated and commented upon by all members and in cases of roads, surveys, maps and other material have to be provided to assist members understand the location and connectivity of the roads, (in this case Four roads), in order to assist how they vote on the Memorandum.

As far as the Presidential Lodge is concerned, it is under the management of the Presidency and not the Ministry.

After the approval by Mr President that the Presidential Lodge be handed over to the State Government, there was a directive to the Ministry to work out the modalities for handing over.

The Ministry has prepared a vesting instrument to convey the transfer and all that is needed is a survey plan.

The Presidential Lodge is a high security location and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works.

Access to the lodge is not under the control of the Ministry.

The motive behind this public accusations must, therefore, be scrutinised coming barely a week after the governor spoke with the Honourable Minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN on the outstanding requests of the state for several minutes and the minister took time to explain the situation of things to the governor. (The first telephone conversation the Governor has had with the Minister since May 29, 2015).

If there is any lack of co-operation, it is on the part of the State Government that has refused to acknowledge not to talk of approving the Ministry’s request for Land of the National Housing Programme in Lagos.

The Ministry is not frustrated by this lack of response and remains optimistic that a response will come from Lagos State.

The Ministry remains committed to serving the Government and Good People of Lagos and will treat all their requests on Merit and in accordance with necessary due process as will be done to other States.

As far as the refund of N51 Billion is concerned, this is not a new item. Almost all if not all states have these claims and the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing has verified these claims.

What is left is the process of raising the finance to pay the debt owed to the states.

Those who are familiar with the workings of Government will attest to the fact that it is an intricate sequence of processes, consultation and collaboration.

Equating processes to a lack of co-operation is, therefore, akin to creating a storm in a tea cup.”