FG owes road contractors N2.8trn — Fashola

The federal government is owing road contractors N2.8 trillion accumulated over the years, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said yesterday.

Fashola said the large chunk of the amount was inherited from previous administrations, adding the debt could not be paid over the years because of poor budgetary allocations.

He said while the present administration had been budgeting over N300 billion for roads since its inception, the previous administration budgeted only about N18 billion for roads in 2015 with only about N9 billion released.

Fashola spoke when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Works, chaired by Rep Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) paid him an oversight visit in Abuja.

This is even as members of the panel queried the minister of the slow pace of road constructions and rehabilitation in various parts of the country.

The lawmakers were not happy that most of the road projects in the country are yet to be completed and inquired to know why it is so.

Besides, the lawmakers said there are many contracts that have contractual issues, which must be resolved immediately.

The minister said in 2017 budget, there is an outstanding of about N265.5 billion for works done and that the ministry was in the process of settling part of that based on an N120 billion second-quarter release it received in December.

Asked why some of the road contracts awarded were yet to take off, the minister said it was due to the cumbersome procurement process as contained in the Public Procurement Act.

“All the award processes are held up by the procurement processes. The process is too long. It’s truly not helping the matter. It’s important to shorten those processes to really salvage the situation,” he said.