The Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen has reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the Nigerian roads sector more than ever before, as panacea for a sustainable road infrastructure.
The Minister stated this during the public lecture organized by the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria. Road sector reform for sustainable roads’ development was chosen as the theme of the recently held lecture.
Arc. Onolemen disclosed that “The degree of Government’s commitment to the road sector is unquantifiable looking at a section in the keynote address by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at a workshop on “Road Sector Reform in Nigeria: The way Forward”, which was held in Abuja, in 2008”.
The Works Minister took time to read the relevant section to his listeners: “The Federal Government recognizes the urgent need to re-engineer this sector through institutional and policy reform. Such reforms should make road transportation efficient and affordable to our citizens, while keeping it attractive for private sector investment. It is widely acknowledged that an efficient transport system is a catalyst for accelerated socio-economic development in any nation.”
Onolememen further revealed that the nation cannot overcome its infrastructure development challenges, unless necessary reforms were embarked upon to reposition the road sector and bring it to a level commensurate with its peer in the developed and emerging nations of the world. He said that experience has shown that there is a direct link between economic growth and the size and condition of road network and therefore the nexus between road development and economic growth made it imperative for the improvement of road networks in new ways, requiring a paradigm shift in the institutional structures that will separate policy, regulation, operation and management of roads.
Arc. Onolememen also reiterated that the nation’s huge investment in road infrastructure has not been with a commensurate attention to the need for maintenance and assets preservation. He said that as a result of years of neglect, the national road network is characterized by pavement and structural failures due to inadequate programmed routine and periodic maintenance or total neglect. For the nation to move forward, he added, requires a sustainable economy commensurate with the Vision 20:2020, it needs to increase the total road network from the current 200,000 KMs to about 300,000 KMs by 2020. The paved network will need to increase from the current 65,000 KMs to over 200,000 by the year 2020. This, the Minister said requires the construction or paving of an average 14,000 KMs of road every year requiring an estimated N600BN per year.
The Minister admonished the female engineers to key into the new paradigm and play crucial role in the new development towards the provision of a sustainable road infrastructure as their theme depicts.
Earlier in her opening remark, the President of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, Engr. Olayinka Ayoyemi Abdul appreciated the presence of the Minister, adding that female engineers will, in their capacity as friends, companions, mothers and colleagues do their best towards supporting the Ministry in carrying out its mandate.
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