Nigeria will certainly work

Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing.

Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing.

Let me express my support for a road safety initiative that the FRSC is set to commence in our highways in order to promote safety.They plan to increase highway patrols and ensure that motorists stay and maintain the use of the right lane unless they are overtaking.

This accords with global best practice and FRSC plans a pilot programme that will increase slowly until nationwide coverage is achieved.As far as the recovery of the right-of-way is concerned, it is a matter of utmost priority. 

The full width of our roads has been encroached by illegal activity in the name of trading and business.When we spend money to build a road of two or three lanes and one or two lanes are taken over by trucks parked on them, or traders positioned on them, it constricts movement, causes traffic, results in lost man hours and stifles the economy. This is not the way to build property and it must stop. We need the support of the state governments to work with our controllers to recover the right-of-way.

Let me be clear. I am not against trade. Indeed, improved trade and commerce is what the economy needs most. The roads that my ministry is charged to build and repair are meant to boost trade and commerce. But trade and commerce that takes place right on the highway or within the 45.72 metres right-of-way is illegal counterproductive.

So let me clearly restate our objective. It is not to relocate or drive away traders, it is to locate them to the set back of the 45.72m right way and we will not compromise on this. If the first thing we achieve is the recovery of the right-of-way, commuters will be able to report a better traveling experience this December.

In a related matter of trade and abuse of our highways, my attention has been brought to the sad and unpatriotic actions of petroleum products transporters who are now carrying cargo of up to 60,000 litres on our highways, instead of the maximum of 33,000 litres approved by law. This must stop without delay. It is illegal business done at the expense of Nigerians.

Ladies and gentlemen, in advocating for a recovery of the right-of-way, let me be clear that I do not advocate bulldozing and demolition of property. Our objective is to make life better not to make it more difficult. Our objective is to support commuters and those in the transport business. Therefore, one of the things we must do, is to be methodical.

First thing we have done in the ministry is to refuse to renew permits given to people to occupy our rights of way, where permits have now expired. People who fall into this category of expired permit holders must understand that we will not renew, and the violation of this policy will attract sanctions.

Furthermore, such people now have an opportunity to voluntarily relocate, before we start to re-possess. I have discussed with the Hon. Minister for Labour about the need to meet with the transport unions of owners and operators to explain the policy and benefits to their business. I urge you, the state representatives, to embrace a similar engagement with the state chapters of these unions.

Most importantly, we must bear in mind that the structures that encroach the right of way are different sizes and categories. Some are temporary and easier to move. Some are permanent and will require time to move. The critical thing is for all encroachers to understand that they violate an existing law of the land by occupying any part of our 45.72 metres right-of-way from the centre line on either side of the road.

Once this is accepted as I expect that it should, they will better appreciate any accommodation or assistance that we can offer to relocate their business outside the right of way, but within the area; in a more organised and legally compliant way. This is one example of change beginning with us.

To respect the Federal Highway Act, and the 45.72 metres right-of-way and to do business according to the law. And I will be counting on the support of the Governors and their Commissioners in this regard because these activities take place in the States.
As for the targets that I have set out for our controllers based on our meeting, let me also say that they have financial consequences which are not in the budget for 2016.

They have all been directed to undertake individual assessments in their states and submit their budgets to us for inclusion in the 2017 budget estimates. It is important to make this point for those who will expect immediate results.

The ability to deliver this plan depends on the budgetary approval that we get and the funding that is made available.  In addition to the above, we have developed a three-year plan for ­­­­­­ Federal roads between 2017 and 2019. This plan is being shared with the ministry of budget and planning for inclusion in the 2017 budget and future national planning data.

The plan ensures that year on year, major road projects are implemented justly and fairly in each of the six zones. Our plan is to connect states within each zone and across the country. Because our resources are limited, we have to make choices.

Our choices are informed by:
A. Input from the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, who have provided data of critical roads in each of the six zones that are necessary to help evacuate farm produce to market;
B. Our need to develop mining business and evacuate mining products and petroleum cargo to fuel the nation’s energy needs, so roads leading to and from fuel depots have come high on our priority of choices;
C. Our need to support the business of traders and importers; therefore we have given priority to roads leading to and from our major sea and airports;
D. Our need to move large numbers of commuters also compels us to give priority to roads that carry very heavy traffic in order to reach more people with limited resources;

Therefore, while it is true that we cannot build all roads in one year or even in three years, we are convinced that a faithful implementation of our plan, and the rational basis of our choices will deliver a better road experience, improved journey times and aid economic recovery in the short to medium term.

Before I conclude, let me speak to two equally important issues.The first is safety and insurance. At a recent insurance summit held in Abuja where I was invited to speak, I made the point that insurance business is not growing and employing as many people as it can. I remarked that enforcement of insurance laws has either diminished or is not taken seriously.

I committed to do my own part by ensuring that every contractor working for the Federal Government must show proof of a minimum of workplace safety and compensation insurance policy, as a commitment to the safety of employees before we pay them for work done. 

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by saying that our national road network and bridges are the life-support system of our economy and our national integration. Better roads are a sign not only of development, they are the pathway out of recession and highways to recovery and prosperity. Not only must we keep them well, we must use them well and treat them as personal property.

I am sure that if we adopt and faithfully implement some of these recommendations and those contained in the various well researched memoranda that have been considered, the story of bad roads in our country will be consigned into history in a short time.

As I wish us a very fruitful deliberation, I urge us all to act with resolve and dedication. I urge us to remember Mrs. Mbuk from Calabar, she is the name and face of millions of Nigerians we will probably never meet, but we certainly can reach by building a road for them to prosper, if we do our work with passion and dedication.
• Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, delivered this as keynote address at the National Council on Workers’ meeting in Katsina.

In this article:
Babatunde FasholaFRSC
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  • Basil Ogbanufe

    “Our objective is to make life better not to make it more difficult”.

    How can this be possible when you, Fashola, refuse to take responsibility but delight in blaming others?

    Please stop the blaming and start working. Our roads can be better and improved without your complaining of hawkers.

  • infinity2020

    Fashola stop speaking with both sides of your mouth. Have you ever travelled abroad? Where did you see traders spreading there wares in the highway or building their kiosk along the side walk? What is worth doing is worth doing well. Stop pandering

  • Ladi Mkinde

    @Infinity any better suggestion some how to Gather street Hawkers in a symposium like lecture with translation maybe a binder of Sales training that can transform, enhance them to Enhanced Sales Agents of something…..e.g Insurance
    Or even , tips bits of how the can bring up , boost the experience a step further go to a step further in Sales……Marketing, Flyers , promo etc with the little they have in parctic that may make a difference is a little more is added.
    The Roads need to be built and , people on the street are there because they believe they can make it work even for days at a time if they get by like that, they could get by if redirected small by small , at least for those who don’t sell food and things of that nature that may be relocated into a Food park.
    Rest maybe on specific days they can have a like a Flea market they go to on assigned days etc

    Again if you could count them to an umbrella number, and have an idea what they sell, that would make easier to start getting them, to look beyond Hawking and , go to another level of it being Sales too and in ways non-hazardous to them , or interfering with Roads or them being harazardous to motorist too etc.
    Alot of the bunch of citizenry compaints will dissipate once the NIN starts taking effect, people will become busy, Programming themself to pursueing the steps , Navigate to a resolve, than complain…..
    It’s just something to tackle and implement once and for all accordingly since it was thought of and now time to put into effect accordingly to culture, and where ever their ability can lead them, and it won’t be Gives fault at all , The ease it will present in enhancing Governing ,Service delivery and ordering the house up etx is to the positive advantage of the Citizens. People will start seeing the difference.

    Have you gone to collect yours Fellow NIN ……..

  • DD

    Thank you my minister. Let the noisemakers keep making noise while you keep delivering quality service.

  • Ladi Mkinde

    Great Job!