In a keynote address to the petroleum tanker driver’s branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, defined what change should mean to petroleum tanker drivers.
The address was made on Thursday in Abuja.
While explaining the importance of energy sufficiency and infrastructure development in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the minister said, “It is one thing to have a plan, and yet another thing to commit to a faithful implementation of that plan.
“If you think this is not important, let me remind you that in 2015, only N18 billion was budgeted for all Nigerian roads in the ministry of works. Only N9 billion was funded at the time, when Nigeria’s oil was selling at close to $100 per barrel.
“This was at the time of the Transformation Agenda, when commitment fell significantly behind stated objectives.
“What has changed under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is that the Buhari Government has committed close to N300 billion to roads, and funded about N260 billion at a time when oil prices are manifestly below the 2015 figures.
“So, if people ask you what change means, please tell them it means doing more with less.”
He added that the results of that “change” would mean reduced duration of journeys on roads where work has resumed, which include the Ilorin-Jebba road, Suleja-Minna Highway, Tatabu Bridge, among others.
He further acknowledged the support of the Niger State Government, and Sukuk, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Those of you who ply Ilorin-Jebba will now admit that from spending 7 (seven) days on that road, you now spend less time while works are rapidly progressing, not only on the road but also in the emergency repairs on the Tatabu Bridge, which suddenly collapsed as a result of massive rainfall, flooding, and lack of maintenance.
“Those of you who ply the Suleja-Minna Highway where there are strategic NNPC Depots at Minna and the PPMC Depot at Diko, will now acknowledge that the contractor is back to work.
“Those of you who take products from the NNPC Depot at Gusau will acknowledge that our contractor is now back to work after years of absence due to lack of payment for work done on the Zaria-Gusau-Sokoto Road.
“Those of you who use the NNPC Depot in Ibadan will also now acknowledge that our contractor is back to work on the Ibadan-Abeokuta Highway and work has been completed on the Enugu-Abakaliki and Kaduna-Jos Roads to provide access to the NNPC depots at Enugu and Yola.
“So, if they ask you what change means to tanker drivers, please tell them that it means the revival of construction works and the return of contractors to access roads to petroleum depots, from which you do business and support your families.
“Tell them that your journey times on these roads is gradually improving and the presence of contractors at the work site gives you hope that it will get better,” he said.
He also mentioned additional works on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the award of the Ikorodu-Shagamu Road that services Mosimi Depot on the list of roads worked by the present administration and announced that his Ministry is working to finalise the procurement and award of the Apapa, Tin Can, Mile 2, Oshodi to Oworonshoki Highway.
He said the list of some of the roads where work is ongoing should clear the doubts of any who had doubts among the petroleum tanker drivers.
The works minister also announced that he was informed by contractors in Kebbi and Jigawa on Wednesday that Bitumen producers and suppliers are now struggling to cope with demand.
He described the announcement as clear signs of business boom and employment, not only for transporters of petroleum products, but also for the manufacturers.
“The impact of road infrastructure to your business does not start and end with access to good roads and improved journey times. The commitment to infrastructure development and renewal by President Buhari also means more demand and supply of petroleum products which means more trips for tanker drivers and more income”.
On the 2019 elections, he said, “ladies and gentlemen, I know that they will ask more of you as they seek to enlist your support.
“When they do, please tell them that you are a right thinking and well-meaning Nigerian who also see a commitment to support public transport with rail.
“Tell them that you see change in the work that the ministry of transportation is undertaking on the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail.
“Tell them that after many years of broken promises, the Buhari Government has acted by starting the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan section of the project which will link to the Apapa Port.
“Tell them that change means the employment of about 7,000 Nigerians now working on that section of the project, and that you now believe that those who started it are better positioned to complete it. Tell them that while you did not believe what you heard in the past, you cannot disbelieve what you can now see.
“I must now conclude by stating that the Buhari Government understands your contribution to the national economy and is acting to improve the ease with which you do business.
“While the results are beginning to manifest, the type of harvest you will reap depends on the choices you will make in the near future. Think well, and choose wisely,” he said.
In response to the minister’s claim, the immediate past president of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, acknowledged the work of the government so far on the roads.
He said NUPENG is very much aware of the work which has been done by the government since they had complained earlier.