o9 December 2015, Abuja – The Federal Government on Tuesday unveiled its blueprint on infrastructural development for the country.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, outlined the government’s extensive plan for the country in the three sectors and noted that electricity tariffs, particularly in populous areas and industrial clusters, would increase.
Fashola also noted that the Federal Government would give priority attention to the completion of major highways and specifically stated that work would recommence on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the short term.
The minister further said that the Federal Government was planning to construct 480 flats in each state of the federation or 17,760 flats nationwide for a start, provided that the 2016 budget would be able to support the initiative.
Confirming that there would be an increase in electricity tariffs, Fashola however noted that it would result in significant improvement in the lives and activities of the citizens.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had finalised its review on the tariffs and was awaiting inputs from the government before it would announce the new rate.
Fashola, while speaking during his maiden press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, also stated that the government would prioritise the completion of ongoing power projects and encourage embedded power generation for use by industrial clusters in commercial centres of the various states.
He said, “We will want state governments to help us identify and enumerate the very populous, industrial and commercial clusters in their states where we can provide embedded power. This will make life easy for those who are involved in manufacturing, fabrication and other related activities.
“Perhaps, the tariffs here, honestly, may be slightly higher than what is obtained, but it will be many times a significant improvement on what they have and we will need the collaboration of the Discos to achieve this.”
The minister also stated that there was no evidence to show that generator dealers in the country were operating as a cartel to thwart government’s plans of generating enough power.
He said the government’s spending in the power sector would be largely focused on the transmission network and gas supply, while the power generation and distribution companies would focus on producing and distributing electricity.
On transmission, he noted that the quantum of power available in the country was slightly larger than the capacity that the transmission network could support.
Fashola said, “We have identified a total of 142 projects of which 45 are at 50 per cent level of completion and about 22 can be completed within a year. The budget estimates are known and we intend to aggressively pursue their completion to increase the carrying capacity from the Gencos to the Discos.
“From there, we must expand the carrying capacity to run ahead of the generating capacity so that in the future, there will always be capacity to carry whatever power is generated.”
He stressed that the government would increase budgetary allocations for capital projects in order to meet the huge infrastructural needs of Nigeria.
On roads, he said the government would prioritise highways with the heaviest traffic.
Fashola said, “Our short-term strategy will be to start with roads that have made some progress and can be quickly completed to facilitate connectivity. We will prioritise within this strategy by choosing first the roads that connect states together, and from that grouping, we will start with those that bear the heaviest traffic.
“We will start from the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and work our way across Nigeria gradually. For those travelling for Christmas, we regret that because of the budget and financing structure in 2015 that have been explained, and it is now only 17 days to Christmas, we cannot honestly promise that your journey times will be shorter this December, but we are optimistic that with works hopefully resuming next year, things should improve over the next few months.”
Fashola also stated that the Federal Government might introduce tolls on federal roads in order to raise enough funds to maintain them.
“In terms of tolling bridges and roads, I think it is a matter of common sense. If that is what will make sure that these things last, so be it. We often build and walk away; but this time, maintenance will be a very strong part of our work programme. We have agreed on a more rigorous maintenance plan,” he said.
He stressed that the ministry must find money to maintain the roads and must not always wait for the Federal Government to intervene.
The minister added, “We will ask everybody to pay a little, because this is our commonwealth, and we manage the funds properly and hold those who will use them to account and use technology. So if you don’t pay cash, you pay by tokens of tickets.
“The money is accountable and it will go to the right place. We will look at it and we will bring it to the public to decide, but it seems to be evident common sense.”
On housing, Fashola projected that the Federal Government might work towards spending N10bn in each state and the Federal Capital Territory on housing alone every year.