By ABAH ADAH, Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, has reiterated that the Apapa road in Lagos is a priority for the Federal Government under the Ministry’s programme to solve the issue of roads leading to critical ports in the country.
According to a press statement issued in Abuja by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Communication, Mr Hakeem Bello, the Minister, who was interacting with newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, at the end of Day One of the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing’s Retreat, arrangements for the deployment of an enduring solution on Wharf road were near conclusion.
Fashola who explained that a couple of private companies had offered to work with Government in terms of fixing Wharf Road, said the design and other requirements for the road were ready, adding “what is left now is to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding before proceeding to the Federal Executive Council for approval.
“ I just want to appeal to residents of Apapa, to people whose livelihood depends on Apapa, that Apapa is one of the priority roads under our priority of Works to solve roads that lead to critical ports.
“We also have Calabar on our radar. But one by one there would be an enduring solution. We’ve done the design, we’ve done everything for Apapa, it’s ready. It’s going to be a concrete road, I believe, that will last another 30 years. So we are close to starting work,” Fashola said.
The Minister, who was certain that work would start in a couple of weeks, pointed that irrespective of the fact that the fund of the Companies, offering to support the project,was private money there had to be some transparency on how to procure it, adding that those procurement guidelines were being followed because, according to him, “In government, if you receive a gift, it must have a value and you must declare that value”.
Fashola also explained that government wanted to be clear whether what the companies were offering was simply Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or they wanted a tax refund for what they were offering adding that the challenge of inadequate budgetary allocation had affected the roads over the years.
“Year on year , you will see that the provisions for the budget funding of Apapa and the Tin Can Island and Mile 2 – Oworonsoki Roads, all of which evacuate the Port have not been sufficient really to deal with the cost”.
Appealing to residents and other users of the road to exercise a little more patience, Fashola explained further, “The cost that we are getting from the contractor there is in the region of about N100Billion and above and the annual budgetary appropriation that is approved for us is about N7 Billion. And then there are debts that we met”.