We owe contractors N336bn, says Fashola

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, says the Federal Government owes contractors N336bn as of July, 2020.

Fashola who said this during an interview on Arise Television on Sunday which was monitored by our correspondent, stated that only N27bn had been released by the Federal Ministry of Finance while about N162bn was available through the Sukuk Bond.

The minister said, “Our debts as of the end of July, our outstanding and unpaid certificates for example were in the area of N336bn. Now, the release we have from the Ministry of Finance for the second quarter is N27bn.

“Then we have the Sukuk (which is) N162bn. So, if you add that up, we are still way behind and more certificates are piling up for work that we haven’t paid.”

The former governor of Lagos State said some private individuals like Aliko Dangote had taken the advantage of the road infrastructure tax credit scheme which would see the private sector constructing roads in exchange for tax reliefs.

Fashola noted that some other projects such as the Second Niger Bridge were being handled by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

He stated that 44 roads were being constructed with the N162bn Sukuk bond. “When you divide N162bn by 44 roads, what is left? That defines where we are in terms of the funding challenge,” Fashola said.

The minister said the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency would repair about 192 roads in the next 12 months while 37 bridges were undergoing maintenance.

Fashola said, “At this moment, for example, FERMA is going to undertake 192 road repairs and maintenance over the next 12 months. “They just sent me the implementation plan on Friday last week and they are good to go.”

The minister also drummed support for the re-introduction of tolls on major roads, adding that the previous governments should have scrapped tolls.

He added, “I can’t sit here in judgement over the circumstances that led to the removal of the tollgates because I don’t have the full facts on why the government of the day took that decision. In Yoruba and other languages, they say beheading is not the cure of headache.”

Fashola said the government was looking at the option of entering into concessions with the private sector on major roads.

The minister said the concession would see to the construction of guest houses, filling stations and others along the highways.

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