Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, says Nigeria’s road surfaces are not as deplorable as the public have made them out to be.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of Wednesday, November 6, 2019, Fashola also blamed poor funding and how long it takes to acquire materials for road works, for the poor performance of his ministry since 2015.
“The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad,” Fashola said.
“When I come here to announce that a particular amount was approved for a contract, that doesn’t mean the amount has been paid, contrary to what you suggest.
“You are mindful also that minister of finance, different arms of government are escalating the fiscal challenges we face as a nation in trying to fund the budget.
“You are also mindful that the last few budgets in Nigeria for almost 20 years have been deficit budgets and these are terminologies that are realities and I think we should acquaint ourselves with if we are not just to report the news but also educate the public.
“You must also be aware that between awarding a contract and also mobilizing to the site, there is a distance. First of all, we have to have an agreement that there is the relationship between the ministry of works or any other ministry and the ministry of justice, then there is a role that banks play, they have to give a guarantee.
“Building materials – rocks, laterite, quarry, iron rods have to be ordered, construction companies don’t keep them.
“The process of producing blasting rocks requires approval from the office of ministers of justice and even the office of the NSA to get approval to get dynamite. All of these are the things that go on. So the point that I am making to you is that there is a distance between approval, implementation, actual construction and the result.”
The rains are blamed as well
The minister also said continuous rainfall has hampered road repair works country-wide.
“So what we experienced this year is unusual, it’s not a good time to be in the transport system. We also want this season to quickly end so that we can go back to work during the dry weather.”
The minister assured Nigerians that massive road repair works will commence when the harmattan season kicks off.
Nigeria’s road surfaces have been described as pot-hole and crater ridden across all geopolitical regions for years.
Most travelers have been forced to make the journey across the country by air instead, with robbers and kidnappers further turning road travel into an extreme sport.
Fashola was appointed Minister of Power, Works and Housing by President Buhari in 2015. After the president won re-election in 2019, Fashola was stripped of the power portfolio and was left with the works and housing beats.
Fashola, 56, served as governor of Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos from 2007 to 2015. He came in for enormous flak as power minister; with darkness remaining the lot of many Nigerians with the former governor at the helm.