The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday said that the Federal Government would require a minimum of N500 billion yearly for the next three years to develop its 35,000 kilometres network of roads.
The minister, who made the projection during an interactive chat with the Press Corps of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Abuja, said currently upgrade work was ongoing on 13, 000 kilometres of the road network.
Fashola pointed out that if past administrations had shown a commitment to developing the road infrastructure network as the present administration, the quality of the roads would have been better than it is now
He said: “We inherited a number of roads and we resolved that we were going to complete as many of them as possible. Many of these roads, some of them started in 2007, some in 2006 and others are even older, but unfortunately for reasons that we can only imagine, at a time that the country was earning more revenues, up to $100 per barrel, the total budget of this country was N4 trillion.
“It is now that the country is earning very less, $40 per barrel that it is budgeting N13 tr. So, those roads should have been done before we came. Even the ones done by the state governments were not paid for, and so we are just paying.
“I think that a minimum of half a trillion every year over the next two, three years would be a strong support to really advance and complete as many as the 711 contracts we have. Again, some people are mistaking these contracts to mean roads. No. For example, on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, we have one road but two contracts. On Benin-Lokoja, we have one road but five contractors.
“So, the totality of these are 711 and the total road network now under construction or rehabilitation is a little over 13, 000km in different stages of repairs out of the total federal road network of 35, 000km”, the minister added.
Fashola further explained that due to different climatic conditions in different parts of the country, the materials used to build roads react differently, saying that this is why his ministry decided to also use different construction materials for different parts of the road networks.
While blaming the nonchalance of some Nigerians on road usage for the decay of most of the roads the minister said to get the best out of these roads, the users must use them properly and stop abusing the roads.
He elaborated: “Let me tell you some of the ways we abuse roads. I have told you we have designed to some of the highest conditions but the more we design, the more some of our people exceed their axle load. The maximum axle load is 45 tons but people are now carrying 60 tons.
“So, if you have something designed for a particular capacity and you are using it for something in excess of the design, it is going to fail.
“The other way of abuse has to do with those who do trucking business, whether it is those who carry food, petroleum products, or other things. They must go and get truck parks. Once you run a fleet business, go and get a place to park your fleet.
“You cannot pass that burden to the government. The government is not involved in the trucking business. Government is responsible for providing a reliable road network for you to transport your goods and services”, Fashola maintained.