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Experts commend FG over executive order allowing private firms build federal roads

A cross section of engineers and project management experts have commended the Federal Government for the Executive Order 007 2019 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

The Executive Order 007 2019 is on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme which will allow private companies to construct federal roads in the country.

The new order will allow private companies such as Dangote Group, Unilver, and Lafarge Africa to construct major roads across the country and be paid in the form of tax credit.

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Under current federal laws, public roads are constructed and maintained by the government, but poor funding has seen key roads left unattended to for years thereby causing hardship for commuters or even  road crashes.

President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Adekunle Mokuolu, said the order was a good development.

Engr. Mokuolu said he would make the NSE position known by the time he was done studying the document.

However, a top member of the NSE said there might be challenges implementing the order.

He said, “They have to ensure that the companies get professionals; not civil servants. It has to be engineers who are in practice to help them with the procurement of the projects; even from the companies, so that the companies will not just have a field day.”

He added that determining the inflation indices and other financial, as well as technical parametres for the credit could also be a challenge.

“They are supposed to pay N10,000 next year and you are now telling them to use N10,000 to give you roads now. You still have to work out the financial and technical issues which must go together and must be done by an umpire like a transaction adviser. We want the right thing to be done so that it is not a matter of people taking advantage of government,” he said.

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The National Chairman of the Institute of Appraisers and Cost Engineers (IACE), Engr. Charles Mbelede, said it was good for the government to seek alternative funding sources for road projects, but that what was more important was to ensure professionals did the projects.

“My thinking is that they are trying to partner with the Federal Government, funding-wise, but more importantly it is not fund alone that does the job. The job has to be done by a high caliber team of engineers.So, while for instance Dangote is providing the fund, there will be need to use high caliber of engineers to ensure that the job is properly done, from execution to handover,” he said.

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