The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Ikanade Agba, says the Federal Government is currently working on 377 roads in 266 rural communities across the country.
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Agba disclosed this while inspecting the progress of work on the 7.5-km Nsukka-Lejja-Igbo-Etiti Road on Saturday in Enugu State.
The minister said that the Federal Government has approved N34 billion for the projects which are part of its Economic Sustainability Plan against the extreme impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Agba said that the Federal Government also released another N60 billion to the Federal Roads Management Agency (FERMA) for the rehabilitation of failed portions of major highways across the country.
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According to him, the country witnessed a shortfall in staple food supply during the pandemic which invariably was responsible for increases if food prices.
He said it was unacceptable that farmers in the rural areas were recording 50 to 60 percent post-harvest losses due to the bad nature of their roads.
“The President is very concerned about the livelihood of people in the rural areas and he is concerned that 60 percent of what you produce get spoilt.
“That was why during the pandemic, food became a problem and he now decided to encourage our farmers by embarking on these projects to link your communities to urban centers.
“Our target is to record 100 percent post-harvest success without necessarily increasing hectarage, and to achieve this, we must improve infrastructure within the agricultural corridor,” he said.
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Agba said the essence of this visit was to assess the extent of work so as to make plans for the release of more money for the projects.
Earlier, the traditional ruler of the Lejja Community, Igwe Anthony Ochike, described the intervention by the Federal Government as “a big relief”.
Ochike said earlier appeals by the community for the construction of the road failed.
The traditional ruler commended the Federal Government for the award of the contract and appealed that the remaining 4km that would take the road to Nsukka be awarded too.
Also, Mr Attanacius Eze, who spoke on behalf of the community, said President Muhammadu Buhari had by the award of the contract given the community cause to repose greater faith in his administration.
He said that the ancient Lejja community which came into existence in about 200 BC was seeing an asphalted road for the first time.
“It is the first time our peace-loving people are walking, riding, and driving on a tarred road in our community,” Eze said.