Strike threat: NNPC to spend N621bn on rehabilitation of 16 roads

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has committed to spend N621bn on road rehabilitation, following the suspension of the planned strike by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, our correspondent gathered on Tuesday.

The PUNCH had recently reported that NUPENG threatened its petroleum tanker drivers would commence a strike on October 11 over the deplorable state of the nation’s highways and other issues.

But the planned strike was later suspended after the union and the management of the NNPC reached an understanding at a meeting held in Ibadan, Oyo State on October 10.

The union said it would not hesitate to embark on the strike without any notice if the understanding reached in the meeting was not fully implemented within the timeframe agreed.

According to a document obtained by our correspondent, the management of NNPC resolved during the meeting to finance the rehabilitation of some critical roads through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit scheme in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Inland Revenue Service to repair 16 road segments at an estimated sum of N621bn.

The roads to be rehabilitated were, however, not mentioned in the document.

The Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme is an initiative of the Federal Government that allows the private sector to get involved in road construction in exchange for a tax credit.

The document, titled ‘Communique on critical stakeholders engagement meeting’, said, “Consequent upon the ultimatum issued by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Branch of NUPENG and the intervention of the NNPC in averting the planned strike action, the NNPC management met with the critical stakeholders to further discuss and align on the way forward.

“The PTD/NUPENG and NARTO noted the plan by the NNPC to finance the rehabilitation of some critical roads through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit scheme, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, to repair 16 road segments roads at an estimated sum of N621bn.

“The roads identified for rehabilitation are selected based on the critical routes used for petroleum products transportation which will ease the delays and other challenges currently faced by truck drivers in transporting products across the country.”

According to the document, to ensure full alignment and implementation, the FIRS and the NNPC confirmed that the arrangement would be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval within two weeks.

“The projects will be carried out with the governance structure comprising all parties to ensure visibility and effective implementation,” it said.

The communique was signed by the National Operations Coordinator, NARTO, Dr Kassim Bataiya; the General Secretary, NUPENG, Mr Olawale Afolabi; the National Chairman, PTD, Salimon Oladiti; the Group Executive Director, Downstream, NNPC, Mr Adeyemi Adetunji; and the Managing Director, Petroleum Products Marketing Company, Isiyaku Abdullahi.

Confirming this in an interview with one of our correspondents, the NUPENG General Secretary, Afolabi, said, “The strike issue has long been resolved. NNPC offered to use tax reliefs to sort out the issue of the road; they are using N621bn for the repairs of the road.”

Yuletide: FG picks 14 from 194 damaged roads for repair.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has identified 194 damaged roads that require urgent repairs ahead of the festive period in the ember months.

It, however, stated on Tuesday that due to the paucity of funds, 14 of the roads that were critical with heavy vehicular traffic had been identified as the ones that needed repairs to ensure smooth movement.

This came as the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, charged transporters not to exceed the highways speed limit of 100km/h when moving passengers, goods and services during the Yuletide to avoid accidents.

Fashola, who spoke while presiding over the seasonal ember months’ rehabilitation briefing in Abuja called for collaboration among stakeholders to achieve safe travels.

A statement issued in Abuja by the works ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, said the meeting had representatives of the National Association of Road Transport Owners, Federal Road Safety Commission, and Petroleum Truck Drivers Chapter of NUPENG in attendance.

Other participants include the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, as well as government contractors.

The works ministry stated that the Director, Highways Construction and Rehabilitation, Folorunsho Esan, in his presentation at the meeting, said 194 damaged roads sections in the six geo-political zones and major links to the 36 states of the federation required urgent palliative works to avoid further deterioration.

Esan said the roads were identified during the surveys directed by the minister.

“However, due to paucity of funds, the department identified 14 critical road corridors with heavy vehicular traffic that need repairs to ensure smooth travel experience across the country during the Yuletide,” the statement read in part.

The ministry further stated that a representative from FERMA said the agency identified damages within 17 road corridors across the country.

It outlined the roads to include the Lagos-Shagamu-Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Road, Lokoja- Kabba- Omuo-Ifaki-Ado Ekiti Road, Umuahia-Ikot-Ekpene-Uyo Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, Akwanga-Jos Road, Kano-Azare-Potiskum Road and Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road, among others.

Fashola said his ministry had commenced the calibration of the nation’s weigh-bridges, adding that the government would henceforth begin the enforcement of regulations starting from Lagos.

SOURCE: PUNCH

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