The Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, Tuesday stated that the country needed N6.3 trillion to fix roads in order to adequately support economic growth at the current rate and meet the Vision 20:20:20 target.
He said this would entail the construction of at least 14,000 kilometres of new roads annually for the next seven years and to maintain and rehabilitate the existing road network as a matter of routine.
This, according to him, will require the average annual expenditure on roads to increase six-fold to nearly N900 billion.
Onolememen, however, stated that the federal government had devoted more time to exploring new ways of bridging the infrastructure gap, adding that “it is very clear that we cannot continue to rely on the limited financial resources available to government.”
In a keynote address at the 10th annual Engineering Forum of Nigeria (EFN-UK) infrastructure conference in Abuja, the minister stated that despite the fact that Nigeria had a large infrastructure deficit, physical infrastructure such as roads, houses, power and water were being developed for the growth of the country’s economy as the economy would stagnate without adequate investment in infrastructure.
He further said the infrastructure deficit was large and it affected almost every sector of the country’s national life.
The minister reiterated the federal government’s commitment to developing the national infrastructure master plan soon.
According to him, there is global competition amongst nations to attract private capital to infrastructure development through Public Private Partnership (PPP) and other forms of engaging private capital, stressing that one of the essential ingredients for attracting private finance is the existence of strong institutions that provide the conduit for collaboration as well as building investors' confidence.
The minister also disclosed that it was partly for this reason that the government resuscitated the process of setting up of a Road Sector Fund and the Federal Road Authority which will hopefully be passed into law by the end of this year.
He said the development will provide key foundation for enhanced and sustainable financing of roads in Nigeria, adding that similar
structures exists in India, Malaysia and many other countries with rapidly improving infrastructure.
Onolememen stated that the country must continue to innovate and build sustainability in all her endeavours, citing as examples government’s efforts in embarking on a number of PPP projects as a means of delivering some critical national infrastructure as well as the Second
He further stated that the federal government plans to involve the private sector in the development of the Golden Triangle Highway,
which will join Port Harcourt, Kano and Lagos cities and provide an economic corridor that will galvanise economic activities and generate employment.
According to Onolememen, there have been improvements in the securing of multi-lateral financing as well as bi-lateral financing where the loan rates are competitive.
He said if truly good and sustainable infrastructure is needed in Nigeria, not only to serve as catalyst for economic growth, but also
for the creative engagement of citizens and to generate national development and considering the very low long-term financing available in the country, then the executive and legislative arms of government must collaborate to do the needful, as recommended, in order to take
Nigeria to the next level.