Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) Federal Republic of Nigeria
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October 19, 2021
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN

Fashola Flags Off Ember Month Rehabilitation Works, Advocates Synergy Among All Stakeholders

·       Says purpose is to find solutions to the problems created by months of rainfall and adverse weather on Federal Roads.

·       Appeals to Motorists to comply with traffic regulations, especially 100 KM Speed Limit
·       NARTO, NUPENG, NURTW, FERMA, FRSC, FG’s Contractors fully represented

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has presided over the seasonal EMBER Months Rehabilitation Briefing in Abuja advocating a synergy among all the stakeholders in the nation’s road transportation sector to achieve a safe and pleasurable travel experience during the coming festivities.

Addressing stakeholders made up of representatives of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Petroleum Truck Drivers Chapter of the NUPENG, and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) , the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) as well as government contractors, Fashola said the only way to achieve the said objective was to work in collaboration during the period.

The Minister, who noted that adverse weather has always posed a challenge to nations globally, pointed out that the only solution was to plan for such periods and ensure that whatever damages or failures caused by such adverse weather were addressed immediately after the period to restore status of the roads.

Referring to the presentations earlier made by some of the Agencies of government, Fashola noted that it was a result of many weeks of planning, likening it to the recent Ministerial Retreat where all the Ministers’ Sectoral activities were evaluated.

The Minister said aside the transport unions and other road users, the meeting was also important for contractors pointing out that although the period was the time contractor would like to continue their main projects it was equally important to create a period during which the contractors would work on the failures to enable travellers have a pleasurable time during the period.

Fashola said the Ministry chose to hold the meeting because, “It is a festive period, it is a period of heightened movement of goods and services, a period when families reunite, it is a period when our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world come home, it is also a time when some people get married”.

“This is the reality of our live experience. All of the people involved in transportation, whether Aviation, whether shipping, it is a very busy period, the port is busier during the period, airports are busier during the period and so are the roads”, the Minister said.

Pointing out that construction still takes place during the period, he added, “contractors at this period are usually more interested in continuing their main work rather than going to repair failures, in order to complete their main contract. So what we try to do is to get them to realize that what interests the road users at this time is not the new road but the part they cannot pass”.

Fashola said the Ministry has also commenced a plan ahead of the EMBER period because, according to him, “During December to January things seem to normalize. Between January and June vehicles rarely get stuck” adding that on roads like Lagos-Otta, Calabar-Itu, vehicles rarely get stuck during the period”.

“It is from July through August and September when the rains start that vehicles get stuck”, the Minister said adding that while the rains may favour the fisherman and the farmer, the transporter, whether Aviation, Shipping on Road, the rain poses challenges to all transport logisticians.
“Whether it is shipping, whether it is Aviation, whether it is the road, bad weather poses challenges to all transport logisticians. Flight are cancelled, ships can’t sail, water flood roads and rail stations. We see them all over the world whether as typhoons or hurricanes”, he said. He noted, however that such periods of discomfort which last for a short while, should not be a reason to stop the movement of people.

Pointing out that the meeting helps the stakeholders to gather and find solution to the challenges and facilitate the movement of people, Fashola explained that strike as threatened by one of the stakeholders was not a solution adding that it would serve the people better if every stakeholder joins in finding solution to the challenges.

The Minister stressed the need for evolving strategies to solve the problem posed by adverse weather on the nation’s roads saying going on strike would impose more hardship on the people, who, according to him, are struggling to make ends meet.

Recalling the presentation made earlier by the Director Highways, Construction and Rehabilitation who put the amount needed to effect repairs on the identified road failures across the country at N75 billion, the Minister, who said the year’s budget could not cover such an amount added that the only alternative was to seek alternative sources of funding including borrowing.

He charged those who criticise the government’s borrowing to proffer a solution or the alternative to borrowing so that the needed amount could be raised to carry out the needed repairs. According to him, such critics are only familiar with home economic but do not know public financing.

“In your home you can stop some things, in public financing you cannot stop anything. You cannot stop building the roads, you cannot stop the provision of security, you can’t stop packing refuse. It has to be done,” he said.

Describing the nation’s transport strategy as the “Eight Wonder of the World”, Fashola said a situation where all heavy cargoes such as petroleum products and other heavy equipment are transported by road could not be described any other way pointing out that it is only in Nigeria that it was happening.

“There is no country where they do what we are doing transporting all heavy cargoes by road”, the Minister said expressing the hope that as the rail network increases more of such heavy cargoes would be moved by rail transportation. “That is when we will have real value of the roads”, he said.

Appealing to the road users, especially the cargo handlers and other transporters such as the petroleum tanker and truck drivers as well as others commercial drivers to comply with traffic regulations, Fashola said adding, “One of the road regulations I would like you to comply with is the Maximum Speed Limit on our highways. It is 100 kilometres not 101 kilometres”.

“Help us tell your members. All the data that we have about road accident show us that speed violation is the largest contributor. It is excessive speeding that is the largest contributor. Our responsibility is to build the roads but the responsibility of enforcement of regulations is FRSC’s work”, the Minister told the transport unions.

He disclosed that the Ministry has started calibrating the nation’s weighbridges adding that the government would henceforth start enforcing regulations starting from Lagos and urged the FRSC to begin this season to intensify enforcement of regulations, especially ensuring that any driver behind the wheels has a valid drivers’ license.

In his presentation earlier, the Director Highways, Construction and Rehabilitation, Engr. Folorunsho Esan had said 194 damaged roads sections “in the six geo-political zones and major links to the 36 States of the Federation that required urgent palliative works to avoid further deterioration were identified” were identified during the surveys directed by the Minister adding that N75.8 billion would be required to fix them. However, due to paucity of funds, the Department identified 14 critical road corridors with heavy vehicular traffic that need repairs to ensure smooth travels across the country during the yuletide season.

In his presentation, the representative from FERMA said the agency identified damages within 17 road corridors across the country, including Lagos-Shagamu-Benin-Asaba-Onitsha, Lokoja- Kabba- Omuo-Ifaki-Ado Ekiti, Umuahia-Ikot-Ekpene-Uyo, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Akwanga-Jos, Kano-Azare-Potiskum and Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto, among others.

Also in their presentations, representatives of major contractors, such as CGC, RCC, JBN, ARAB Contractors, Mothercat, CCECC and Sermatech, among others, acknowledged the directives of the Minister to provide palliatives to road sections within their projects damaged by the rains and promised compliance.

Earlier in his opening remark, the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Babangida Hussaini, said the purpose of the yearly meeting was to take stock of challenges posed by the passing Rainy Season and provide solutions in order to ensure shorter travel time and pleasurable journey across the country during the festivities.

Also present at the briefing were Directors, Federal Controllers of Works from some of the States and Special Advisers from the Ministry as well as contractors and other and other stakeholders.

 

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FASHOLA DELIVERS THE 39TH ANNUAL OLUMIDE MEMORIAL LECTURE ORGANIZED BY THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTION OF SURVEYORS (NIS) IN ABUJA

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