The Federal Government owes contractors working on federal road projects the sum of N306bn, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said.
Fashola, who disclosed this at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing while playing host to the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association, also said the FMWH would have loved to have the N1tn being spent on petrol subsidy.
Responding to requests made by his guests for the tolling of roads and bridges in Nigeria, the minister further stated that a lot of work was ongoing across federal roads nationwide.
Fashola said, “I heard you talk about tolling roads and bridges. Well, as you said, government is actually spending a lot of money on subsidising fuel. And that is a lot of money from government to spend on subsidy.
“I would have loved that that money came to the Ministry of Works, but the numbers I was trying to get for you is that for over four years, between 2015 and 2018, the entire amount we got was not up to N1tn in actual cash in this ministry.”
He added, “The budget, yes! But not all of the budget is funded. So if we had N1tn to spend on Nigerian roads we would be in a much better position. As of October, we were owing contractors N306bn and more bills are coming in and all we got was N73bn.”
The former Lagos State governor expressed regret that despite the very limited resources available for infrastructure development, some persons were kicking against an increase in Value Added Tax, as proposed by the Federal Government.
He said, “And this is the country where some people are of the opinion that the government shouldn’t raise VAT.
“Some people are also of the opinion that government should not even borrow. So I think it is important for those of you here to also come out and take a position.”
Fashola told his guests that the Federal Government would introduce tolls on roads, but noted that this would happen when a clear policy on it had been finalised and made public.
“When it is time to start; of course, we will articulate a clear policy for the information of Nigerians. That is the much I will say about that,” he stated.
The National President, PTONA, a body that consists of key inter-state transporters in Nigeria, Isaac Uhunmwagho, said the association was strongly in support of the reintroduction of toll gates on highways across the country.
Uhunmwagho outlined the priority roads that should receive special attention to include roads linking Lagos and Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt and Abuja and Abuja and Kano.