In its plan to ensure equitable development of road infrastructure across the country, the Federal Government has evolved a three-year strategy to ensure that year-on-year, major federal road projects are implemented fairly in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The Federal Government said it has worked out a three-year system to develop the nation’s road infrastructure without any section of the country feeling shortchanged.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who announced the plan at the National Council on Works meeting in Katsina, recently, said the plan, which would be implemented between 2017 and 2019 was already being shared with the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning for inclusion in the 2017 budget and future national planning data.
Fashola added that while government could not build all roads in one year, a faithful implementation of the plan would ensure equitable delivery of better roads across the country.
He declared, “Therefore, while it is true that we cannot build all roads in one year or even in three years, we are convinced that a faithful implementation of our plan, and the rational basis of our choices will deliver a better road experience, improved journey times and aid economic recovery in the short to medium term.”
How it will work…
In his keynote address at the council meeting with the theme, ‘Prioritization and Optimization of Allocated Infrastructure Funds’, Fashola, who said the plan was meant to connect states within each zone and across the country, however, pointed out that because the government’s resources were limited; it had to make choices which, according to him, border on priority and economic expediency.
The Minister said government would be guided in its choices by such factors as inputs from the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, who, according to him, have provided data of critical roads in each of the six zones that are necessary to help evacuate farm produce to markets.
Also, roads leading to and from fuel depots will be high on the priority of choices because of the need to develop mining business and evacuate mining products and petroleum cargo to fuel the nation’s energy need, the Minister said, adding that government has also given priority to roads leading to and from the nation’s major sea and airports because of the need to support the business of traders and importers.
The Minister said government was also giving priority to roads that carry very heavy traffic in order to reach more people with its limited resources because of the need to move large numbers of commuters.
FG, states to collaborate…
Another aspect of roads management the government evolved was that the heads of the Federal Ministry of Works in the 36 states and the FCT were mandated to identify and reduce potholes, restore kilometre signposts, lane markings, highway signs and clear vegetation on highways in their domain.
The heads of Federal Ministry of Works in all the states and Abuja, known as Federal Controllers, have also been mandated to recover the full width of the Federal right-of-way of 45.72 metres on both sides of the highway from the centre line.
Fashola also announced that the Federal Government has set in motion moves to form partnership and build synergy with state governments in order to deliver safe and motorable roads across the country.
However, he said the success of the moves would depend on a number of factors, some of which were in the control of the states and some of which were in the control of the Federal Government.
He said on the federal part, it has challenged and would empower the Controllers to be more effective and responsive to the states and communities they are posted to and to hold them to account for the quality of federal roads within their states adding that all federal controllers have agreed to take on the responsibility.
According to him, “The Controllers have been briefed to recognise their roles as ambassadors of the Federal Government in their states of posting and have also been mandated to develop closer working relationships with the state governments, the governors, the commissioners responsible for road works and infrastructure, the local government representatives because federal roads traverse local governments, and also the traditional rulers and community leaders through whose domains federal roads traverse.”
Urging the States to develop closer working relationships with the federal controllers in their domains, Fashola added, “They must share with you the information about federal roads in your state, while I expect that you will share with them, your individual state development plans, in order to establish critical interfaces and build lasting partnerships for development.
“For want of a better example, let me urge you to treat and welcome our Controllers with the same warmth and hospitality that you usually extend to Ambassadors from other countries, and to promptly report difficulties to us in the Ministry whenever they occur,” the Minister said.
Noting that it is all about development and Nigeria, the Minister said the envisaged relationships should transcend political affiliations because, according to him, “Developments is a daily undertaking while political contests are seasonal encounters.”
Fashola, who noted that the Federal Government is a partner to all States and not a competitor with any, said in exchange for the new relationships for development Federal Controllers have been tasked to, among others, begin a process of identifying and reducing potholes with a view to eventually eliminating them.
They are also to ensure that as many villages and towns are properly located and sign boards erected at their boundaries “so that commuters can know as they travel what village or town they are approaching, entering or leaving as well as the distance.”
The Controllers have also been tasked to restore kilometre sign posts to all federal roads within their states to assist drivers and road users know how much progress they have made on their journey, restore all lane marking and highway signs on the roads within the state and clear federal highways of vegetation overgrowth for safety of commuters and, as much as possible, use local people to do these jobs in order to create some employment opportunities.
They will also recover the full width of the Federal right-of-way of 45.72 metres on both sides from the centre line, remove all obstructions from highways such as speed breakers and develop better solutions such as pedestrian bridges where necessary to eliminate collision between vehicles and pedestrians.
On plans to recover right-of-way on Federal highways, Fashola, who described it as a matter of utmost priority, said although the objective was not to relocate or drive away traders, government was intent on locating them to the set back of the 45.72m from road centre which constitute the right-of-way, adding, “We will not compromise on this.”