BusinessDay

FEC approves N97.572bn for road contracts

… makes case for enforcement of Facilities Management Policy after #EndSARS protest

The Federal Government on Wednesday approved contracts for construction of new roads and augmentation of existing roads contracts worth N97.572 billion across Nigeria.

Minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, while briefing State House correspondents after the 22nd virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja, said the FEC approved the memo by his ministry on policy directive to complete existing road projects.

The memo covers the Oyo to Ogbomosho highway, a 52-kilometre road project and part of the Ilorin – Ibadan expressway, covering 145 kilometres.

The memo made case for adjustment in the scope of work, such as the thickness of the pavement from 500mm to 560mm, change the asphalt to polymer-modified bitumen and also the shoulders from surface dressing to fully asphalted inside and outside shoulders.

“So, all these required changes in prices from N47.504 billion to the new total cost of N105.041 billion, an addition of N57.537 billion.

“This was the revision that we presented, which Council approved. This road was awarded in 2010. As I said, sections 1 & 3 were completed. We are trying to complete section 2, which we also inherited,” the minister said.

The ministry also got approval for revision of the cost of Lokko-Oweto Bridge contract. The bridge across the River Benue, links Nasarawa and Benue states, and provides a major time saving detour of about four hours for travellers from the South South, Benue, to Nasarawa and to Abuja.

The project was awarded in 2011 in three sections, with section one from Benue to Oweto, already completed. “The bridge is essentially finished now and opened to traffic.

“The Lokko to Nasarawa, a 74-kilometre project, was awarded to another contractor. So, the approval given today was a N9.348 billion variation to complete the bridge component or remaining work on the bridge. If you go there now, it is already opened to traffic, to link the existing road in the Benue side to the bridge,” he said.

Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, said the Council also approved the award of contract for the full scope development of Arterial Road 20, from Northern Parkway and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Way to the Northern Expressway (ONEX)/Murtala Mohammed Way-North within the Federal Capital City, Abuja.

The contract is awarded to Messrs Gilmor Engineering Nig. Limited, for N30,686,609,298.68 with a completion period of 32 months.

According to Bello, the project area is within Phase II of the FCC serving as boundary road between the adjoining districts of Mabushi, Kado, Katampe and Jabi.

“The project is expected to guarantee improved access to the districts, improve security, and provide employment, both skilled and unskilled.

“The road project would further enhance overall decongestion of traffic in phases I, II, III, IV of the Federal Capital City,” he said.

Also, the FEC said the immediate implementation of the Facility Management Policy approved in 2019 for Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies by governments at both national and sub-national levels would reduce the current high level of unemployment in the country.

The works and housing minister, while giving reports on the fact finding trip to assess the damage to public and private properties during the recent EndSARS protests, said, “The team see the policy as a vehicle to help absorb and create immediate employment for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour, in order to address huge unemployment and poverty related part of the problem.

“This is important because people have skills but we need to provide the economic environment in which those skills can become income earning and self-rewarding.”

The policy, which was approved by the Federal Government in 2019 as part of measures to strengthen maintenance culture, especially of public infrastructures, was jettisoned soon after its approval.

The policy was to ensure regular budgetary provisions for maintaining public buildings like the Federal Secretariats and other major government buildings through engagements of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to boost job creation.

The team, which comprised ministers representing the South West in the FEC, had visited Lagos following the protests and reported that “15 police stations were lost, commercial undertakings, especially the ones in Lekki and many other parts in Surulere, were damaged, some schools were also damaged, private properties were also damaged and public buildings like the City Hall, the Lagos High Court, Lagos Forensic Laboratory and DNA Centre, the Nigeria Ports Authority and the palace of the Oba of Lagos, and many others were damaged.”

Among the several other recommendations, the team also urged government to restore confidence in the police and their morale, by improving their welfare, whiles tracking the ongoing reforms being undertaken in the police force.
“We also urged the Federal Government to consider through the Federal Ministry of Health, issues of substance abuse among the populace and propose solutions because, this potentially affects mental health.

“We made this recommendation mindful of the global opium and substance abuse crisis and the impact on our country as well. We think this is a matter that requires some attention and focus.

“Lagos being the epicentre, commercial and strategic city state in the South West and the country is where we should all go. That was what informed our visit to Lagos.

“So, I just briefed council about the reports that were presented to us by the Lagos State government when we visit.

“The highlight of the brief was to make recommendations to the federal government to support Lagos State to restore damaged facilities, especially those related to the maintenance of law and order and the administration of justice such as police, court buildings and forensic laboratory.”

Fashola also made case for the Lagos High Court judges for provision of some office accommodation as a temporary relocation.

“We also urged federal government to consider short to medium term support to small and medium businesses who were affected by the looting and arson, which took place in Lagos and other parts of the country, to see if something can be done through the Central Bank Intervention Mechanism under the Covid-19 funding or any other related funding mechanism,” he said.

They called on the federal government to channel the assistance through the National Economic Council, the platform on which state governors meet, so that other states across the country who were also affected, businesses were damaged can benefit in addition to Lagos residence who might so be supported.

“We also urged federal government to undertake a thorough investigation into what happened in the Lekki Toll Plaza, particularly the role of the military and ensure that the outcome is made public with a view to achieving closure on the matter.

“We recommended that the federal government re-mobilise critical organs and agencies such as National Orientation Agency and formal educational institutions to focus on ethical re-orientation, inculcation of family values into the school curriculum.”

He disclosed that the recommendations focused on etiquette, local reasoning, critical thinking, solution seeking, empathy, self-respect, civic duty and human rights.

“We also recommended the federal government to actively seek and support the process of justice for all by ensuring that any of those apprehended and identified to be involved in the perpetration of this carnage be speedily brought to justice and fairly tried,” he said.

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