By 2019, the federal government will not be constructing its own roads; it will become the responsibility of the private sector.
Minister of Information, Labaran Maku made this known in Abuja during a Ministerial press briefing organised by his ministry for the Works Ministry.
“Everywhere in the world now, or major countries that are strong economic powers like Nigeria, people are not looking for Federal money or government money for road construction. People are returning to the private sector. India, Malaysia – several of those countries – attract billions of dollars for road construction from the private sector,” said Maku,, who noted that the Federal Government has spent N1.765 trillion on 184 ongoing projects across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
Despite the huge sum being spent on infrastructure, a huge gap still exists, hence the need for the private sector to take over.
“There is no money that you will get today from the Federal budget that will deliver on these infrastructure,” Maku explained.
He therefore said that by 2019, the construction and maintenance of roads will principally be handled by the private sector.
“…in the next three, four, five years, I believe that the money that will go into the provision of roads will not come from the government. It will be coming from the private sector,” the Minister said.
Maku expressed regret that unforeseen crises like Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s North-East have hampered infrastructural development inn the country. “Imagine what would have happened if all of the money (said to be trillions of naira) spent in prosecuting the war on Boko Haram had been spent in providing roads throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking further, Maku suggested that the appropriate authorities should ensure the high rate of encroachment on the right of way by Nigerians is drastically reduced. He said this was very necessary because once someone had erected a structure on such spaces, it is alwayss hard for government to claim back the right of way without having to deal with public outcry. It is therefore better to ensure nothing is built on the right of way in the first place.
He therefore advised authorities in charge of this to remain alert to stop such illegal structures from springing up.
Maku noted that once a reform is put in place to ensure construction of federal roads is passed on to the private sector, the Federal Highway Authority will be created.
He appreciated the Minnister of Works, Mike Onolememen, who gave the scorecard of his ministry at the briefing, for the accomplishments recorded by his Ministry, including the flag-off of the second Niger bridge, the ongoing reconstruction of Apapa-Oshodi expressway and the complete overhaul of the Third Mainland bridge in Lagos.
Onolememen said the present administration in the state was committed to road construction and rehabilitation, with 25,000km of the 35,000km of federal roads now in good and motorable condition.