Poor Funding Threatens Completion Of East-West Road

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By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja

The Minister of Niger Delta Ministry, Architect Danus Ishaku said on Friday that it was no longer feasible to complete the East-West federal road project this year because lack of fund.

Former Minister in the ministry, Mr. Godsday Orubebe had earlier assured that the road would be completed and commissioned by December this year when he met the Senate Ad-Hoc committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (Sure-P).

He had hinged hope on the getting the sum of N113billion he said was remaining for the project to be completed.

But, with just N46billion allocated to the Ministry for capital expenditure in the 2014 Budget out of which a paltry sum of N8.73 billion was allocated for continuation of work on the East West Road project, the Supervising minister told the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs that the possibility of completing the project this year was no longer possible.

The Minister said for the project to meet the December timeline, N111billion would have to be sourced elsewhere or added to the N8.73billion already earmarked for continuation of work on the project in the approved 2014 budget of the ministry.

According to the Minister, out of the N349.8billion estimated for the project, a total of N238billion has so far been expended on it by the Ministry and other intervention agencies like Sure-p and loans sourced from the African Development Bank (ADB), adding that a balance of N111billion has to be sourced for completion of the project.

“We would not be able to commission this project by December 2014 as earlier promised by the former Minister unless we get additional funding from all available sources to the tune of N111billion”, he stressed.

The minister who was taken up by a member of the Committee, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi Usman(PDP Kogi Central) on why the ministry had not collapsed its entire capital votes in the 2014 Budget for the project, said even if the total budgetary allocation of  N49.193 billion proposed for the ministry in the 2014 budget estimates was spent on the project alone, it cannot complete it.

The minister gave a breakdown of the entire N49.193billion 2014 budget profile of the ministry thus: N46.8billion for capital projects, N1.183billion for overhead costs and N1.130billion for personnel expenditures.

He said aside the N8.73 billion allocated for continuation of work on the East West Road project, another N8.7 billion was set aside for continuation of work on other roads being handled by the Ministry in the Niger Delta Area and N6.15billion for completion of work on the Skills Acquisition centre.

But the Chairman of the Committee, James Manager and other committee members berated the ministry for not been able to complete and commission a single project since 2008 when it was established, describing the situation as very disturbing.

Manager said: “It is very worrisome that your Ministry has not completed and commissioned a single project since 2008 when it was established. Yes, going through the records, your allocations have been reducing on yearly basis since 2010, but that is not enough for the Ministry not to be able to complete a single project since established about six years ago,” he said.

“The little money you have available, it is my utmost view that you use it to complete projects that are about 70-75% completed so that you can have credit for that.”