Contractors in the nation’s construction industry have appealed to federal and state governments to pay debts owed the firms to enable them to return to project sites across the country.
Acting under the auspices of Federation of Construction Industry, the contractors claimed that in the last two years alone, debt owed them by various governments was N600 billion.
The president of the group, Solomon Ogunbusola, said in Abuja on Friday that delay in payment of the debt had grounded operations of most of the companies.
According to him, many of the companies have closed shops while thousands of workers have been retrenched.
Mr. Ogunbusola said that no fewer than 8, 000 workers in the industry were laid off in the last six months.
He admitted that the governments in the country were currently facing challenges, saying “we appreciate efforts towards paying salaries of civil servants’’.
“This is a step in the right direction, but we appeal that government should look into our problem soon as they conclude intervention in the civil service,’’ he said.
He assured that the group would resist confrontation with government at any level ‘’because we remain partners in progress.’’
Mr. Ogunbusola said that the association recognised the downturn in the nation’s economy and commended the government for its determination in addressing the situation.
“We will not fight the government or go to the streets with placards, because we remain partners in progress for the development of the country.
“We appreciate the fact that government is grappling with dwindling resources due to shortfall in oil proceeds.
“So, nobody is expecting the government to pay all the debt at once but we expect some payment to help us offset our liabilities and be able to return to project sites.
“There is no way a responsible government can overlook the welfare of civil servants and deploy available funds to pay construction companies,’’ he said.
He pledged that the construction sub-sector would continue to partner the government in efforts to develop and maintain infrastructure. (NAN)