Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to completing the ongoing reconstruction of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway.
He stated this at the town hall meeting of stakeholders organised by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing held in the Kaduna State University Conference hall, Kaduna on Thursday.
Fashola said, “ Mr. President is more passionate and concerned about finishing this road and many others before his constitutional term ends.”
He also said the objective of the town hall meeting was to expose the realities and explain the challenges involved in the construction of the road.
Responding to various questions from stakeholders who wanted to know why the construction work on the road was taking too long, the Minister explained that one of the reasons why work could not commence early on the road was as a result of the request made by the some members of the National Assembly to expand the road from two lanes to three lanes.
In his words, “Shortly after we flagged off the road, we received a letter from the Senators in the National Assembly asking the Federal Government to expand the road from two lanes to three lanes, that was not from us ,it was from the National Assembly, the Senators and they wrote to the President and copied my Ministry.
Explaining further, Fashola stated that based on the directive from the Presidency to undertake that expansion, “we needed to redesign an expansion to accommodate about 40 different bridges on this road to align with the lanes.
” So if they are going to expand from two to three lanes, a new design needed to be created. The process for doing that required us to hire a design consultant. We had to follow the procurement process established by the National Assembly,” he said
Accordingly he said, the procurement process is a long one which entails advertising, waiting for a period of six weeks after advertisement, reviewing of tender, picking of consultant and going to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) and finally to the Federal Executive Council for approval to hire a consultant to do the design requested.
The Minister also disclosed that, after going through all the processes of procurement for redesigning to three lanes, the Ministry received another instruction to revert back to two lanes due to paucity of fund.
Fashola also attributed the delay in completion to the total length of the road and the process of construction.
He explained, “Each Lane is 375km. So if you multiply that by four, we are building a thousand and five hundred kilometres of highway. No matter how hard you tried to work, if there was 25 hours in one day to do this work, we will commit to it, but the truth is that materials take time to react, minimum and maximum processes must be observed. “
Responding to a question on the Kaduna Western By-pass, the Minister explained that the Kaduna State government initially requested it to be transferred to the State and the request was granted, but later due to the inability of the state to raise the financing for it , the commencement of the work was stalled.
He added that, a recommendation to put the project under the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme was later considered and approved.
He explained, “As far as the Western By-pass is concerned, let me also say that it is on record, Kaduna State was the first State to apply for the transfer of Federal Road to them, that I recommended to the Federal Executive Council and Council approved and I transferred it to the State Governor in his first term. It was after the unsuccessful attempt by the Kaduna State government to raise financing that we recommended that it be put under the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme.”
In her response to some of the questions raised at the the town hall meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed stated that her ministry would work closely with the Ministry of Works and Housing and Messrs Julius Berger to expeditiously work on the reconstruction of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway in order to ensure completion before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
She explained that the issue of funding has been addressed because the Ministry of Finance has given Six hundred and fifty million US dollars ($650,000,000 USD) to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) whose responsibility is to generate additional fund to ensure that the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway and other designated projects are fully funded.
In his address, the leader of the delegation and Chief of Staff to President Muhammad Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, assured the people that President Muhammad Buhari’s “commitment is real and is going to be realizable before the end of his tenure.”
The Managing Director of Messrs. Julius Berger, who also made presentation at the town hall meeting, revealed that the company has introduced a new innovative Cold Recycling method of constructing roads in Nigeria, which he said is being used for the first time on Nigerian roads for the on going reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway way.
He listed the benefits of Cold Recycling as achieving shorter construction time, conservation of resources, cost effectiveness, enhancing road safety and impacting positively on the environment.
The Managing Director also stated that the scope of work on the roads have been divided into three sections which are; Section One, Abuja to Kaduna road with 165.5km; Second Section is Kaduna to Zaria with 73.4km and the Third Section is Zaria to Kano with 137.0km .
In attendance at the town hall meeting were the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe who represented the Governor, representatives of the Niger State Governor, Commissioner for Works and Housing and that of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Engineer Shehu Hadiza Ahmed.
Other Stakeholders at the meeting were legislators from both the National and State Assemblies from the concerned states , representatives of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Community and traditional institutions.