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.Advocates collaboration, rather than agitation, as means to resolve issues arising from compensations
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has inspected the ongoing Dualization of the 221 KM Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi Road, the National Housing Programme and Federal Secretariat projects in Nasarawa State, declaring that the strategy of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration on infrastructure as a driver of economic growth is working.
Fashola, who also noted that the role of a progressive government is to improve the human condition, advocated collaboration rather than agitation as a means of solving issues like compensation because collaboration would enable the government to engage the owners of land and properties along the corridors of ongoing road projects while construction and rehabilitation works continue on such projects.
Responding to a question on Federal Government’s borrowings while interacting with newsmen after inspecting the Road, the Minister, explained that the road is being funded from a China EXIM Bank loan, pointing out that although the decision to borrow from the Chinese bank was initiated by the immediate past administration, the process was completed by the current administration because “It is money borrowed for investment to improve peoples’ lives”.
“I have always told you that my own view of our role as a progressive government is to improve the human condition”, he told the newsmen adding that all the activities along the project corridors, including business and other economic activities, were for improving the human condition.
Listing some of the benefits that would accrue from the project after completion to improve the human condition, Fashola said some of them would be the reduction in journey time and cost of travel as well as safety of lives pointing out that an attempt was currently being made to reshape the sharpness of a dangerous curve and reduce the steep slope on the road around Nasarawa-Eggon as a way of reducing accidents in the area.
The Minister said aside the direct jobs generated by the project by way of employment, there are quarrying plants that have come on board as a result of the project and are employing over 100 people while an asphalt plant that has also come into existence is also employing dozens of people.
“These have brought a lot of economic activities around here and along the stretch of this corridor we are employing thousands of people”, he said.
The Minister appealed to the communities to remain peaceful and collaborate with the government, especially on the issue of compensation, adding that agitation would only delay the completion of the work.
Noting that the 221 kilometre road runs from the Federal Capital Territory through Nasarawa all the way to Makurdi in Benue State, the Minister explained further, “The Dualization is being undertaken to include a 10-lane expansion of over five kilometres where Abuja joins Nasarawa around Mararaba area”.
Responding to a question on the perceived delay in the project execution, the Minister, who said the contractors are working in Sections, explained further, “There are places where we still need to relocate, to resettle people, we still need to deal with the issues of compensation”, adding that the government was currently working with the governments of Benue and Nasarawa States to ensure that those who would get compensated are the real beneficiaries and not middlemen.
Fashola, who also noted that the road is being expanded, explained, “As you know, we are dualizing, so where one bridge existed before, we now have to build another bridge”, adding that at the end of the Rainy Season the contractors would come back and do the earthwork.
On the Lafia-Shendam Road, Fashola, who noted that the road needed attention even before the Buhari administration came to power, said some rehabilitation work would be done on the road in response to the State governor’s appeal.
“But we cannot do everything at once. If you understand, we have talked about the Loko-Oweto Bridge, we have talked about the Shendam Bridge and there are so many other repair works we are doing. So as these things come, we take them one at a time”, he said.
At the National Housing Programme in Lafia, Fashola, who was joined by the State Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, explained that the programme was being undertaken in Phases in 34 states of the country. He added, “We are now in some states at Phase 3; in many other states we are in Phase 2, and that is why you see some completed and some uncompleted houses here”.
According to the Minister, the programme “is driving other unseen businesses in the SMES those who make and supply all the materials, nails, binding wires, wire boards and lubricants and there are people who provide nourishment at the sites”, he said.
“It is a big value chain of opportunities, so if you see the economy heading towards growth, it shows clearly that the President’s strategy on infrastructure as a driver of growth is working. What is needed now is just to deepen that which we already have. So if somebody comes to tell you that infrastructure does not drive growth tell him that he is talking of home economics, he does not know public financing”, the Minister said.
Fashola, who also visited the Federal Secretariat Complex under construction in Lafia told newsmen that after the creation of the State some 25 years ago there was need to properly accommodate Federal Government workers serving in the State pointing out that the burden of accommodating the workers had put pressure on the facilities belonging to the State.
“When we talk of workers’ welfare, it is not just their salaries and emoluments; it also includes their work environment. This is the place where workers spend the longest part of their days, in fact the longest part of their life and it is very important to make that environment conducive”, Fashola said.
He added that the President has also committed to completing the secretariat projects currently being undertaking across the country “to demonstrate the Federal Government’s commitment to workers’ welfare and that will translate to enhanced productivity”.
Also speaking at the Secretariat Complex site the State Governor, Engr. Sule expressed deep appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister for the number of infrastructure projects going on in the State including the new Secretariat.
Earlier during the courtesy visit to his office, the Governor, who commended Fashola’s inspiring achievements as Governor of Lagos State and now as Minister, declared, “I have nothing else to say than to thank you, thank Mr. President for all the support Nasarawa State has continued to receive. You have mentioned clearly the Nasarawa-Loko-Oweto Bridge that you have completed and even the over N30 Billion that you have just recently approved at FEC in order for us to get that project completed for the 74 kilometre Road.”
Fashola was accompanied on the one day working tour by top Ministry officials including Directors, the Controllers of Works and Housing in the State as well as Special Advisers.
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