Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said that construction companies have promised to re-engage over 17,500 workers who were laid off by the sector due to lack of payment for the past three years.
The minister made this known while featuring on a television programme Good Morning Nigeria, a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme, monitored in Abuja, adding that 41 construction companies including some consultancy firms have been slated for payment this quarter.
He insisted that the Ministry cannot accommodate all the contractors due to insufficient funds being expected from the Federal Government. The priority of the Ministry is to finish as many on-going road projects as possible.
Speaking on the amount allocated to the Ministry this quarter, Fashola said that N79bn is earmarked for road projects, N24bn for power while about N5bn for housing totaling N108bn. He opined that with this amount, the contractors have agreed to return to site while some have already started mobilizing to site in anticipation of payment.
The Minister enumerated some of the road projects that will benefit from the re-mobilization to site to include Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, Loko-Oweto Bridge in Benue State, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Lokoja Expressway, Ore-Shagamu Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt among others.
Also reacting on the issue of power generation, the Minister, noted that there are problems along the power sector, ranging from distribution, transmission, generation and gas supply, he opined that the existing gap of meter supply in the distribution segment of the power sector has created enormous opportunities for local production.
The Minister stated that Distribution Companies have been asked to raise capital to buy and supply meters and replace the aged ones since they have increased their tariff or divest some of their shares in order to raise funds to finance the business.
He said that DisCos can have strategic shares arrangement in exchange for goods like meters, cables etc with companies who make those products which they need to service their customers.
On the housing sector, Fashola stated that the Ministry aims at having a policy that will standardize housing schemes, the materials to be used in those houses will be uniformed. The companies producing doors, windows and other accessories will produce in large quantities and they will be same throughout the nation, which invariably will lead to employment generation.
He further noted that there is quest for what is affordable which will be to the reach of the poor and the low income earners which will help bridge the gap in the housing deficit.
He said that in order to have a sustainable and affordable housing; there must be an agreement, a common purpose and parameters as well as those who are qualified to occupy those houses. He added that for Nigerians to have a national housing policy that will be acceptable, considerations must also be placed on both religion and cultural differences.
The Minister reiterated the need for government to buy the idea of using local raw materials as against the imported ones, adding that it will not only boost the economy but will be an avenue to generate employment for Nigerian youths as well as encouraging the cottage industries and reduce capital flight of foreign exchange.