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Road projects: Senate invites finance minister and others

The Senate committee on finance has invited the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, over the funding status of three federal government legacy road projects estimated to cost N2.7 trillion.

Also to appear before the panel are the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji.

The chairman of the panel, Solomon Olamilekan, gave the directive during an interactive session with the NSIA boss on Tuesday.

The legacy projects are the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge. They are funded and implemented through a tripartite agreement between the ministries of finance, works and the NSIA.

Orji, who was invited for the same reason, told the lawmakers that the federal government established the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) in February 2018, to accelerate the execution of “certain critical, strategic infrastructure projects essential to the rapid growth and modernization of the nation’s economy.”

He said that the PIDF is being managed by the NSIA to develop the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge Project, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, Mambilla Hydro-Power Project and the East West Road. He said the total cost of the projects is estimated to be N2.7 trillion.

Sources of funds for the projects included federal government’s initial seed funding of $650 million transferred to PIDF in 2018; N90 billion transferred by the Ministry of Finance to PIDF in 2019 and $311 million recovered funds transferred to the PIDF in 2020, he explained.

“The NSIA is to provide $300 million, China Exim N1.423 billion, second seed funding $650 million and other sources (local and international financial institutions), $770 million. We have so far expended the sum of N231.8 billion on the three projects as follows: Lagos-Ibadan (N60.9 billion), 2nd Niger Bridge (N100.6 billion) and the Abuja-Kano road (N70.1 billon).

“The PIDF is being utilised in the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge project and the Abuja-Kano Road. And the construction contracts were executed between the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) and the contractors before they were transferred to the PIDF – therefore, all information and documentation relating to the projects prior the handover should be sought from the FMWH.”

He also said the legacy debts of the three projects “are the responsibility of the FMWH”.

Giving the current status of funds, Orji noted that the PIDF balance as of June 2020 stood at N181.4 billion.

This balance, he said, incorporates recovered assets of $311 million.

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