This Day (Lagos)

31 December 2012

Nigeria: Lagos Denies Seeking FG Fund to Build Roads

Lagos State Government has denied a statement credited to the Minister for Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen that it has approached the Federal Government to seek for financial assistance to complete the redevelopment of Lagos-Badagry expressway to 10 lanes and light rail (blue line) project.

Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, debunked the statement at a recent interactive session with journalists, where he noted that the state government had sufficient funds to complete the project, which he said, would open Lagos to West African markets.

He also expressed the state government's unflinching commitment to the reconstruction of Lagos-Badagry expressways, which he said, informed why the sum of N20 billion was earmarked for the project under the 2013 fiscal regime of the state, representing about four per cent total budget of N499.10 billion.

He therefore faulted the claims that the state government no longer had funds to complete the multi-billion naira project as early proposed, thereby adding that the Federal Government never contributed a dime to the road redevelopment project which Governor Babatunde Fashola's administration pioneered.

He said the Federal Government, "has not given us any money for the project while still owing the state a sum of N51 billion. We are not in collaboration with FG in reconstructing Lagos-Badagry road. The project is being funded by the Lagos State Government 100 per cent. But if the FG gives us funds, we shall collect."

Hamzat, therefore, put the 2013 budget for works and infrastructure at N74 billion, out of which he said N20 billion had been earmarked for the reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry expressway.

He added that N40 billion of the budget would be targeted at completing ongoing road projects, while few more roads would be awarded next year, saying government wanted to ensure that roads already awarded were completed before new ones were awarded.

He explained that it was not proper to award new roads without completing those being constructed and that the state government "will tackle completion of ongoing projects in 2013. With a budget of N450 billion, it will take about 15 years to build and reconstruct all roads in the state.

"The state government has changed the way its roads are designed. We now make use of speed breakers. We have redesigned our new pedestrian bridges to accommodate ramps for the physically challenged people.

"We are determined to address road deficit in Lagos, but we want to build to our taste. The Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge is ready and it is the first suspension bridge in Africa. We don't want trailers on that bridge and we are going to build barriers on it, that is, speed breakers," he stated.

The commissioner denied insinuations that most of government's roads were concentrated on Lagos Island, noting that the truth was that out of the 443 roads built by government in the last three years, while Alimosho had the largest number of roads and followed by Agege, among others.

On road maintenance, the commissioner disclosed that any road contract awarded by government now "must have maintenance embedded in it as it cost less to maintain roads than to build new ones.

"The State Executive Council has ordered all ministries to dedicate a certain budget for maintenance of the projects they had executed, adding that "our intention is to complete all ongoing projects."

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