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N129bn contractors’ debts may stall road projects – Onolememen

By on March 6, 2014

Many ongoing road projects may not be delivered this year if the huge backlog of N129 billion owed contractors by the  Federal Ministry of Works remains unpaid.

The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, made this known yesterday while defending the ministry’s 2014 budget of N128, 244 billion, which was N62, 6 billion less than what was appropriated to it last year.

As the minister made his submission, Dakuku Adol Peterside (APC, Rivers), who noticed that his state didn’t feature on all in the catalogue of roads slated to get federal government attention this year, walked out in protest.

Indicating that  the ministry is coping with dwindling budgetary provision annually, Onolememen explained that with the shortfall in the 2014 budget, the execution of many projects would be difficult to accomplish.

On the proliferation of abandoned road projects in the North-east region, the minister said it was difficult to mobilise contractors to sites in the area because of the security challenges in the region.
Addressing the grievance of Peterside,  Onolememen told the committee after Peterrside’s departure that the ministry still had its eyes on the Aba- Port Harcourt Road, which was stalled because the contractors handling the project couldn’t access the funds they needed for the purpose.
He also explained that the ministry withdrew from dualising Ahoda-Omoku road when it discovered that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) listed it as one of the projects it would execute.

The Chairman of the House of Representative on Works committee, Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, also lamented the poor budgetary allocation to the ministry.

He maintained that the envelope system of budgeting whereby allocations were made to these Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was not acceptable. Ozomgbachi assured the minister that the committee would recommend to the National Assembly the need for additional funding for the sector.
Other members of the committee expressed dissatisfaction on the level of road implementation in their states.



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