The Bayelsa government on Wednesday said that it has taken steps to overcome the challenges that stalled the delivery of a 22 kilometre ring road abandoned by the immediate past administration.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state executive council approved the re-commencement and construction of the road from Igbogene to AIT road in Yenagoa from January 2021.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Ayibaina Duba spoke to NAN in Yenagoa on plans to fund the project, amid outstanding loans of over N20bn approved by the state House of Assembly from February 2020 till date.
Extant information from the Debt Management Office indicated that the debt profile of the state as at June 30, 2020, stood at N150.05bn, while as at March 31, 2020, a few weeks from February 14, 2020; the debt stock was N154.951, 999,955.49, indicating a marginal decline.
NAN recalls that the Assembly had on March 3, 2020, two weeks after Gov. Douye Diri’s inauguration, gave the governor approval to borrow N2.9bn from commercial banks to purchase cars for himself and top government officials.
Diri had also on Nov. 11 secured another approval to borrow N17 bn for agric and other projects, and another N3.5 bn loan on Dec 24 as counterpart fund for basic education.
Duba told NAN that the construction of the road scheduled to restart in the second week of January 2021, will go ahead in spite of the challenges facing the state as the government had set aside N21 bn in the 2021 budget.
He stressed that the government of Bayelsa remained committed to meeting its pledge to the people in spite of the harsh economic climate occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling revenue.
The road project, according to Bayelsa Commisioner for Works, Moses Teibowei, is to cost the state over N22 billion with a completion duration of 24 months.
The Information Commissioner explained that the government has made adequate financial provisions from alternative sources, including contractor financing to meet the target date.
“The government is very committed to the timely delivery of this major project as part of its commitment to filling the infrastructure gap.
“We had planned for 18 months completion date, but we realised that given the realities it was too ambitious.
“So we settled for 24 months and we are going to be very innovative and prudent and we have made feasible milestones to be achieved by the contractor and the state is currently stable and enjoying goodwill from investors.
“We have to take this bold step following the arrangements we made and we are very hopeful that the project will unlock the economic potential of our state and serve as catalyst for the prosperity of our people,” Duba said.