Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, appealed to road contractors to return to sites and commence work without further delay, following approval of the 2016 budgetFashola, at a meeting with over 20 construction firms, including Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Arab Contractors, Dantata and Sawoe, Reynolds Construction, Stabilini, RCC, Gitto Construzioni and Setraco, among others, in Abuja, yesterday, assured the contractors that his ministry would soon begin to offset some of the debt owed them for projects executed across the country. The minister noted that his ministry would ensure the contractors got paid with the funds allocated to them in the 2016 budget soon Fashola said: “When the debts are paid, workers who were laid off by the construction companies would be recalled to work as soon as possible. “Very soon, in a matter of days, hopefully we will get some funding to disburse to you. What we hope to achieve is to hear from you what the problems are.” The minister explained that in disbursing the funds to the contractors, government had also extracted from them the commitment to go back to their respective sites, using the thousands of recalled workers to complete the projects. While appreciating the challenges confronting the contractors, the minister noted that with the budget approval, the ministry would not hesitate to offset existing debts owed contractors as soon as disbursements and releases were made, to enable them re-engage their staff and return fully to site. He added: “I have been to some roads, especially in the North Central and I will continue to do that across all your sites. I need you to also provide for us information about the number of people you expect to employ in your various sites. “I need to know the number of people you are likely to put back to work when you are paid because what we are likely to achieve here, as we go on this year, is to complete as many roads as possible as our money can allow.” Having been assured of their payments, the contractors agreed with the Minister to immediately mobilize workers to sites, in anticipation of payment and promised to re-engage as many of their staff that had been laid off. The contractors, who are owed over N600 billion, also promised to improve the standard of roads as well as provide road furniture, including signage, kilometre milestones etc. They also appealed to the Minister to seek alternative financial arrangements to pay for projects not captured in the 2016 appropriation.
Source: Vanguard van