By Babajide Komolafe
Federal Government, yesterday, disagreed with Ogun State government on the use of private sector companies by the state to reconstruct Federal Government roads, even as President Goodluck Jonathan said states could not concession or toll Federal roads.
While Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State said that Federal Government should allow states to intervene in federal roads through private sector companies, President Jonathan said that the government would not tolerate such practice, noting that state governments could not concession or build tolls on Federal Government roads within their boundaries.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Wempco Steel Mill’s 700,000 metric ton cold rolled steel plant, the largest in Africa, Jonathan said: “If some state governments want to give out Federal Government roads to private operators for the purpose of tolling, we say no.”
Earlier, Amosun complained that the dichotomy of federal and state roads was hampering effort to attract investment into the state.
He said: “We have continued to renovate and upgrade existing infrastructure. We have also continued to build new ones.
“Mr. President, Sir, I wish to state that Your Excellency would have visited the state more than the four times earlier mentioned if not for the fact that our investment drive is being greatly hampered by an embarrassing dichotomy called Federal and State roads.
“At present, our roads are wearing new looks, with a standard and quality we refer to as the Ogun Standard.
“However, we are being accused by agencies of the Federal Government for improving on the standard of roads in our state.
“What is more painful is that these federal roads are very germane to our investment drive because they link most of our industrial sites.
“Take for example, the Abeokuta-Aiyetoro-Imeko-Afon road, which is essential to our agricultural development project, especially in the area of animal husbandry.
“The Ibeshe-Ilaro-Papalanto road links Dangote Cement; Ejirin-Bonojo-Lagos garage road in Ijebu-ode; Abeokuta-Odeda-Ibadan road. Examples abound.
“As a matter of fact, contractors have been mobilied in some cases, while in others the companies along the axis have already worked out the cost implication and sharing of that cost, with the state government, only for Federal Government to disrupt our arrangement under the disguise of encroachment on federal roads.
“The economic implication of these roads on our development process is not only great; but the fact remains that the conditions of the roads have continued to bring about loss of lives. If not for economic reasons, let us do something urgently on these roads to save the lives of our people.”
This is not an issue — Jonathan
President said: “I think there is a communication problem because this is not supposed to be an issue. I will ask the Minister of Works to develop a comprehensive document, which we will circulate to all the states. There is no controversy about a state or a local government intervening on any road or infrastructure belonging to the Federal Government.
“Anything owned by the Federal Government, state or local government belongs to the people. We emphasise that the ordinary Nigerian do not care about whether it is the Federal Government or state government, local government or a company that build the road. All they want is good road.
“Whether the money used is coming from oil or from any resource, the money belongs to the people. The tiers of government were only set up by the constitution for development.
… gives conditions
“It is very clear that the state governments are free to intervene on any federal roads but there are conditions.
“You may want to intervene in any road at a time we are not ready because we are operating within a budget. The roads transverse the states. Federal Government have no land anywhere apart from the Federal Government territory.
“So, let us say a road transverses a state and by activities of the state, the state want to dualise or make it an expressway.
“If you want Federal Government to participate in terms of cost, then we would. But we cannot pay more than we have planned because we are operating a budget. So if it is Trunk A road, we can give you part of the money that is meant for a Trunk A road, or to expand the road.
“But for us to do that, the procurement process must be followed. Our due process of laws should be followed, because we must ensure that the procurement follow the law, and the contract is not over-invoiced. So those are the conditions we give.
“f you follow our due process laws, then we can pay back. But if you feel you have enough money, then you don’t need to bother about us or our procurement laws, you can go ahead and build the road.
“But if some states governments want to give out Federal Government laws to private operators for the purpose of tolling, we say no. If the state has enough money to build the road for the people, you can go ahead and build the road.
“If the road is to be given out to a private company for tolling, Federal Government can also give the road to a private company because there is no need for Federal Government to hand over a road to a state, and the state government will then hand over the road to a private company. No we don’t accept that.”
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