President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said that in order to take the full benefit of road projects embarked upon by his administration, Nigerians must “change their ways”.
The President spoke at a one-day workshop on the developments in the road sector which held in Abuja on Monday.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Mr. Buhari said his administration has raised budgetary allocations to capital projects significantly.
“It is on record that this administration has raised the budgetary allocation for capital projects from 15 per cent to a minimum of 30 per cent and committed to physical stimulus targeted at infrastructure,” he said.
“The result is the revival of construction activities and other projects nationwide. From 2015 to date, my administration has constructed several hundred kilometres of inter-state federal roads and bridges to ease the movement of persons, goods and services.”
He however added that for people to enjoy the roads when finally completed and get value for the investment “we must change our ways and this government has signed on for that change”.
Speaking further, the president said the convocation of the workshop was an indication of the important role that road transportation plays in the nation’s economic development adding that the critical place of road transportation in the country’s evolution and the national life had never been more alive than presently.
“Presently the haulage of industrial goods, agricultural produce and industrial raw material, petroleum products, power plant components and other economic materials required in the manufacturing sector, are carried out using the road network,” the president said.
He added that it was this realisation that underscored the promise of change by the present administration in May 2015 with infrastructure as a priority.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the workshop was meant to reflect and agree on the need for change about how Nigerians have used their road infrastructure adding that the country’s economic growth, national productivity and job opportunities would be impacted by the conclusions and resolutions of the meeting.
He noted that there are now existing treaty obligations within the West African sub region and beyond that regulate the amount of load any goods vehicle can put on an axle and by extension on the road in order to do business within ECOWAS and beyond. Mr. Fashola explained how toptimise the opportunities that lie in road networks.
He listed such roads lke Trans-Saharan highway that connects Nigeria to Chad, Niger, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria; the Lagos- Abidjan Highway through Benin, Togo and Ghana, or the Enugu- Cameroon Highway through Abakaliki – Ogoja , Ikom adding that there is need to sensitise road transporters and imbibe the existing treaties.
“This meeting is critical to the achievement of our common goal for shared prosperity. Our compliance with these regulations will open a massive door of opportunity and prosperity of cross-border trade to Nigerians engaged in the transport business.
“This is why this meeting was convened; because when President Buhari once said that ‘we will change our habits and we will change Nigeria,’ I believe this is one of the things he had in mind. While it is true that we could have done better by way of massive investment in our transport infrastructure during the windfall of income from oil, this Government is now rapidly and aggressively addressing road transport infrastructure repairs, rehabilitation and construction as many of you who travel regularly will attest,” he said.
Mr. Fashola, who noted that there is no state in Nigeria today where contractors would not be seen busy at work, added, “The crux of this meeting is to first acknowledge the President is only one man who cannot be everywhere, and secondly to recognize that we are the actors of the change that is required to take us to prosperity and thirdly to recognise that, the way we use the roads when finally completed will determine how long they last and whether they deliver prosperity or not.”
In a communiqué issued after the workshop, participants expressed appreciation to the federal government for the on-going rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads across the country, affirming the need for enforcement of axle load limit to safeguard the nation’s road infrastructure.
They also lauded the introduction of toll gates on federal highways as a means to improve revenue generation for the maintenance of roads.
Other highpoints of the Communiqué are reaffirmation of need to operationalize the weighbridge stations on Federal roads to check overloading, recognizing the need for adherence by motorists to road signage for safety, need for all stakeholders to join hands to halt the abuse on Nigerian roads and agreement that tank farm owners and sea port operators should comply with the axle load limits by installing weighbridges at their depots/ports.
Credit: Premium times