Bukola Ogunyemi: Appraising Kaduna’s Smart Infrastructure Plan

Kaduna State knows that infrastructural development is a straightforward way to inject money into the economy and lay the foundation for long-term growth. This is why it has committed N108 billion of its 2016 budget to capital expenditure and will further commit N130 billion in 2017.

Already, 421 contracts have been awarded for renovation of public primary and secondary schools in the state. These renovations are complete with the provision of solar powered bore holes and cubicle toilet blocks. The aim is to expand class sizes to the extent that they cater for school enrolment rates which have soared from about 1 million pupils in 2015 to 1.8 million currently.

In the same vein, the Dangote Group alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have provided funding support to the Kaduna State Government for the renovation and equipping of 1 Primary Health Care centre in each of the 255 wards in the state. Imagine how much of the state’s health burden will be relieved if 255 PHC’s function optimally across the state.

The more attractive option for politicians is to initiate new projects at the expense of uncompleted ones inherited from previous administrations. The tragedy this poses is that the likelihood of leaving behind even more uncompleted projects becomes high.

Luckily, Kaduna’s present administration is not thinking this way. Early in his administration, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai contracted Bain and Company to review all inherited and ongoing capital projects in the state with a view to developing a prioritization mechanism for future ventures.  Among its truly shocking findings was the fact that N87.5 billion existed in outstanding contractual obligations. Examining the outstanding obligations further also revealed that most projects were awarded for the protection of political interests as opposed to the public interest.

In the years leading up to 2015, much of the state was without potable water. This will change in early 2018 when the N50 billion Zaria water facility is completed. Thanks to funders like the African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank, the Zaria water project will supply 150 million litres of water daily and provide water coverage for 2.2 million people across 7 local government areas. Even for agriculture, the sludge generated from the water treatment process will be used as fertilizer.

In 2012 and 2014, construction on the project was disrupted when the contractors abandoned site due to the inability of the government to offset some N3.2 billion payment for completed and future works. Now, thanks to a deal brokered by the Governor and his team, the contractors will accept staggered payments of N300 million monthly until all outstandings on the project are cleared.

It is in making smart deals like these that the state raises the required funds for most of its infrastructural projects.

Already, the state government has begun a redesign of its entire transport infrastructure. With the support of the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) and funds from the UK Department of International Development (DFID), a transport policy was launched in 2016, the policy will ensure accessible and reliable public transport service that meets the mobility needs of the state.

The Zaria road in Rigassa, the Rabah road and Kawo roads are very major entry, intra and exit ways for Kaduna State. Unfortunately, these roads have become peculiar traffic areas.

The State Government has responded to this by implementing measures that streamline traffic inclusive of dualizations, repairs to dilapidated roads and the introduction of a bus rapid transport (BRT). The BRT will have an exclusive lane such that it can operate even at times when traffic is the most congested.

Another smart deal will fund Kaduna’s road interventions. The state receives about N1.3 billion monthly from the Federal Government to augment the prices of the fall in crude prices, it has negotiated a retainer-ship with 12 contractors who continue to work specifically on roads for an agreed monthly instalment until their contract prices are offset.

Besides these efforts, a N10 billion proposal was included in its 2016 budget to construct a Metropolitan Rapid Rail Line. The line will run through the Millennium City to Rigassa and Mararaban Rido, Zaria expressway to Sabon-tasha, Mando and Nnamdi Azikwe expressway. Expressions of interest have been sent out and a prequalification carried out on 18 companies.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai knows that infrastructure spending unlike any other form of government expenditure puts an economy firmly on the path of sustained progress. This is why his administration is committed to putting in place infrastructure that guarantees easier access to both education and health services, improved transportation systems that result in easy accessibility and an overall increment in the standard of living.