The minister of power, works and housing, Babatude Fashola was a guest on Channels television morning talk show, Sunrise Daily on Tuesday where he talked about the efforts that government was taking to address the worsening power outages and blackout across the country.
Fashola who was nicknamed the Super Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, due to the fact that he is in charge of what used to be three ministries, explained that power production has dropped to 3,393 megawatts as at April 25.
According to him, decaying infrastructure was mainly to be blamed for this. He said the country relies on gas supply to generate most of its power, and that, of the 25 power plants in the country only three are hydro plants while the others are run by gas, which is in short supply. Fashola explained that out of the 140 turbines installed in the country only 78 are available and merely 50 are working at optimum capacities as at press time.
He however explained that his ministry was working on what he described as an “Incremental Power” policy to increase Power supply. According to him, the government is also building more power stations in Kashimbula(projected 40 Megawatts), Kaduna (projected at 210 megawatts), Katsina (solar and wind projects) and Enugu. He said seven of such power stations are expected to be ready this year, and they were working on licensing 14 solar power stations too.
He encouraged people to take ownership of the electricity DisCos, ie hold them accountable for distribution.
The former governor of Lagos State also stated that his ministry has asked for N268bn for construction of roads, 99bn for Power and 66bn for housing in the yet to be passed 2016 budget.
He said 206 roads were awarded by the last administration for a total sum of N2 trillion and many of them have not been fully paid for. In order to fulfil this, his ministry planned to work the roads in phases. Starting the first year with roads that have the heaviest burden of traffic or which convey critical services. Subsequent years would see them dealing with roads that have less burden. He explained that the government will make sure that road in all geo-political zones are attended to in each phase.
He gave the example of the Illorin-Jebba road- which is very strategic for conveying Agricultural produce between the North and South- as a road that would be given priority attention. He said on inspection, he found that people were struggling to salvage their vegetable products because they had been delayed for four days on that road. He took a bush path on an elevated surface in order to pass through- something that articulated vehicles and lorries transporting food stuff could not do.
He said the contractor for this road was not paid, but upon his(Fashola’s) intervention, the company was back on site and he hoped they would make substantial progress before the rains came.
The minister said he would like to use more local contractors, but he cannot engage new contractors now for roads already awarded. It won’t benefit him or the nation in the short run, and he wants the best possible solution in the quickest time possible.
But in the long run, he would engage more local contractors, but would encourage them to improve their capacity to buy and lease equipment as a lot of the work can’t be done the traditional way.
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