…..vows to sanction fuel scarcity perpetrators
President Muhammadu Buhari today reassured Nigerians of his administration’s commitment to timely complete major infrastructure projects in the country as a strategic step towards improving the socio-economic wellbeing of the citizenry and achieving improved performance of the nation’s economy.
The President, in his nationwide broadcast, specifically promised that the All Progressives Congress-led administration would make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.
While recounting the fiscal and other challenges his government has continued to contend with over the past two and a half years, explained that rather than deterred the administration would continue to do its best to ensure that Nigerians enjoy dividends of democracy promised during the 2016 electioneering campaigns
In what amounted to comprehensive update on the administration’s major capital projects, President Buhari presented the scorecard reports on power, rail and road infrastructure development, adding that siginificant progress will be made to improve these critical infrastructure nationwide.
He explained: “The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway. The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.
“Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route. The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.”, President Buhari assured.
He listed other rail projects getting serious attention of implementation to include, among others, the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line, the Abuja to Itakpe line, Lagos to Calabar“Coastal Rail” line,, and Abuja Capital Light Rail, adding that in the next few years, many Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.
On road infrastructure, President Buhari disclosed that the management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) had been reconstituted and had been charged with a 12-week rapid intervention in 44 road repairprojects to cover all the geo-political zones.
According to him, 25 major highways will be funded under the N100 billion SUKUK facility with each geo-political zone benefitting by an equal amount of N16.67 billion. He listed some of the roads to enjoy special attention as Oyo – Ogbomosho, Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu, Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm, Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway, Kaduna Eastern Bypassm Kano – Maiduguri Road, and Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road, Suleja – Minna Road.
In addition, the President confirmed that Government had approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair, projecting that the project is expected to be completed in 2019.
On the achievements recorded in the power sector, President Buhari noted that “more Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses.”
He, however, lamented that power remained a concern to the government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.
He clarified further: “The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.
“Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded. Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.
“Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year. The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.
“A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.”, the President added.
He expressed optimism that the “massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.”
On the embarrassment caused the government over the fuel crisis which characterized the yuletide season nationwide, President Buhari accused saboteurs as responsible for the crisis and promised that perpetrators of the crisis would be sanctioned appropriately.