Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has announced the Federal Government’s readiness to confer stiffer penalties on transporters of excessive loads on federal highways across the country.
Besides, the minister stated that the National Council of Works, the highest policy-making body on road infrastructure, would look into the reintroduction of weighbridge to limit increasing destruction on the nation’s highways.
At the 28th National Council on Works meeting in Kano State, yesterday, Fashola lamented the level of destruction inflicted on the highways by excessive haulage.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano had previously promised total support for the introduction of weighbridge on highways, but advocated legislative support on the enforcement of policy.
The governor attributed lack of synergy among government agencies entrusted with the management of road and traffic to check conveyance of excessive loads on the highways, thereby diminishing the life span of the facilities.
Fashola reiterated that government would no longer accept reckless damage on roads built for specific carrying capacity. He reminded the governor that the current administration would not succumb to threats by the operators of heavy vehicles, who resort to cheap blackmail and mischievous sentiment over the planned weighbridge.
He stressed that from N18 billion works budget in 2016 when the government came on board, the Muhammadu Buhari administration successfully increased it to over N250 billion, building bridges and roads across the country.
The minister briefed that several instruments started by the government, including Sukuk bonds and Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme to raise funds afforded the construction of over 2.5 million kilometres of roads across the country.
According to him, the reduction of gridlock on Lagos–Ibadan expressway and others near completion has transformed to efficiency and productivity. He, however implored the state government to address the prevailing issue of compensation to local communities where works have been suspended as a result of hindrance from property owners.
While declaring the meeting open, Ganduje commended the Federal government’s investment in infrastructure and other important projects across the country.
He specifically applauded the ongoing work on Kano–Kaduna–Abuja road, Kano–Katsina road and Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Gombe–Maiduguri expressway, which he disclosed opened significant windows of economic and industrial development.