The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, has undertaken an extensive inspection tour of on-going infrastructure projects in the North East Zone saying the rapid progress being made on the projects and the employment opportunities created in the process were a manifestation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to achieve economic recovery and create jobs through housing, roads and general infrastructural development.
Fashola, who spoke in Taraba and other States in the course of the four days tour, told workers at the site of the State’s National Housing Programme that the whole idea behind the road and Housing development projects going on now across the country was to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth, get those who had lost their jobs back to work and, thereby, energize the economy.
The Minister, who was received by the obviously excited workers with chanting of praise for the Federal Government as they waved and hailed him with their raised fists and working implements, assured Nigerians that the present administration was committed to empowering, especially, the vulnerable in the society such as the artisans, welders, bricklayers, carpenters, food vendors, suppliers of building materials and others.
As the Minister waved back and moved round the site of the National Housing Programme in Taraba State and engaged several of them in a chat, those who were working on the walls and other areas within the site gathered round to hear him even as he marched their excitement by posing such questions as when the worker was engaged, what he was doing before his engagement, whether he loved the job and the pay among others. An excited worker, Rilwan Adamu, who answered all the questions at the site of the National Housing Programme in Jalingo, Taraba State, praised the government for providing jobs for them.
Abubakar Umar also answered similar questions from the Minister at the site of the Housing Programme in Gombe State while an artisan, Jeremiah Barnabas, chatted with him at the site of the 40MW Hydro Power Plant in Dadin Kowa, Gombe State.
Thanking the workers on behalf of President Buhari, who, he told them, had asked him to greet them for contributing to the rebuilding and growth of their country, Fashola further encouraged them to be committed to their work as their contribution would help to put the nation’s economy back to shape and make the country prosperous for every Nigerian.
Addressing the workers, Fashola pointed out that the objective of the Federal Government was to get the youths back to work adding that the programme would energize the economy as artisans, carpenters, bricklayers, welders, food vendors, suppliers and many others engage in activities that put money in their pockets and food on their tables.
The Minister told them, “This is all what it is about; it takes care of the vulnerable members of our society. That is what Housing does; it energises the industry and it energizes employment. You will see trucks moving in and out, you will see bricklayers, you will see carpenters, you will see welders, you will see food vendors; and this is what we are igniting across the whole country”.
“That is why President Muhammadu Buhari said this year’s Budget is a Budget of Growth, getting people who have lost their jobs previously back to work, putting money in their pockets and restoring their dignity so that every morning they can tell their wives, they can tell their husbands ‘I am going to work’ ”, he said.
Earlier, the Federal Controller of Housing in the State, Mr Pius Eneji, who received and conducted the Minister round the site, had told the him that the site was on 16 hectares of land adding that the contractors were currently working on five hectares of the land.
He also told the Minister that there were a total of 76 units of houses in the site made up of four units of one bedroom semi-detached bungalows, 48 units of two bedroom semi-detached bungalows and 15 units of three bedroom semi-detached bungalows.
The Controller, who said the work on the site was delayed for some time because of some exigencies, informed the Minister that a total of 19 contractors were on the site and working pointed out that but for the delay, some of the houses would have gone beyond the levels that they were at the moment.
He said the number of workers that were engaged on a daily basis varies according to the volume of work at hand adding that when the building got to the stage of casting lintel, more workers would be required as well as at other stages of work as the buildings progress.
According to him, there is also a nine-man team sent from Abuja to monitor the project and the team was based in the State adding that his office has also deployed seven staff of the Ministry to complement the efforts of the Abuja team in order to ensure delivery of quality buildings for the people.
It could be observed at both the Gombe and Taraba sites that the buildings were at various stages of completion with some at the foundation level while others were already progressing towards the lintel level.
Earlier at the site of the road inspection which was the construction of the Jalingo-Kona-Lam-Karim-Lamido Road, inside the State Capital, Fashola thanked the Taraba State Government for taking responsibility for the road, the contractor handling the project, for the quality of work done and the Taraba State Commissioner for Works and Transport, Dr. Tafarki Eneme, for supervising the project to completion.
The Minister, who assured that the Federal Government would reimburse the State the money they spent on the road, however, pointed out that the road was now a Metropolitan Municipal road as it ran inside the centre of the city adding that it no longer qualified as a Federal Road.
According to the Minister, “This is now a Metropolitan Municipal road. It really does not qualify in the sense of a Federal Highway because our work as a Federal Government is to connect states together. But obviously when this road was designated as a Federal Highway most of these developments were not here; but you now see that it now has a pedestrian sidewalk and all of the amenities.
“So it has become a Municipal road and if you apply, I think the Federal Government will be inclined to hand it over to you for maintenance and management”, he said, assuring the State Government, however, that the handover or any such arrangement in the future was without prejudice to its right to be fully reimbursed whatever it had spent on the road.
On Saturday, the Minister also took time off on his way to Yobe State to inspect the National Housing Programme in Gombe State during which he reiterated that President Buhari was determined to make Housing and Infrastructure development generally the main plank of his administration’s Economic Recovery Plan.
The Federal Controller of Housing in the State, Tpl. Yalin Luka Barnabas who received and conducted the Minister round the housing project, told him that there were altogether 76 housing units made up of 1,2 and 3 bedroom semi-detached bungalows adding that there were altogether about 500 workers on daily basis.
The National Housing Programme is currently going on in 33 states of the country.