Fashola promises aggressive budget implementation as contractors move back to site

Babatunde Fashola

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Saturday inspected the Loko-Iweto Bridge being constructed over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue states, with a firm promise that this year’s budget would be aggressively implemented by the present administration.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the inspection from the Loko end in Nasarawa State, Fashola said in spite of the fact that it was now faced with a crash in price of oil and therefore low earnings, the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to ensure that the projects captured in this year’s budget would be completed.

The minister, who noted that the contractors left site because of non-payment of their fees, expressed joy that they have not only returned but have recalled their workers earlier laid off as a result of the inability of the previous administration to pay for certified works adding that the contractors handling the Loko-Iweto Bridge had recalled 300 of their staff within a week of their return to site.

He told the journalists, “We have mobilised our contractors back to work so that they can finish the work they have begun. They left site because they were not paid, I think from 2014. We have asked them to come back to site and as you have heard, coming back alone in one week, they have reemployed 300 of their staff whom they laid off before.”

According to the minister, who said the company was expected to have a full capacity of close to 900 staff back to work soon, “that is the kind of growth and inclusion we expect as we also improve the infrastructure of the country and get construction work going again”.

“You will see those who lost their jobs come back to work. You will see increased merchandising, quarrying, supply of building materials, laterite, sand and cement and hopefully the reflation and growth of the economy return. But quite aside this when this project is completed it will open up these communities, connect Nasarawa and Benue states”, Fashola said.

Assuring that the project would be completed on schedule in 2018, the minister also noted that farmers would benefit from the movement and transportation of their produce to get to the market much more quickly and in much more healthy condition and reduce wastage and loss that transportation difficulties causes at the moment.

Emphasising the commitment of the Federal Government to aggressive implementation of the budget, Fashola told the newsmen, “You will see that for the first time in almost a decade a President insisted that 30 per cent of the budget should be spent on infrastructure renewal and infrastructure development to reduce the deficit of public infrastructure.”