Over N5 billion lost to public asset vandals as FCTA moves to restore vandalized assets.
Federal Capital Territory Administration has lamented the huge burden posed by the vandalism of public assets and critical infrastructure, which it has estimated to run into billions of naira.
The Administration, while decrying damage towards public assets, however, expressed readiness to leverage the very wide network of the National Orientation Agency, NOA, in the concerted action to stem the ugly trend.
The FCT Minister Malam Muhammad Bello made this revelation in a paper he presented at a recent stakeholders conference on the Protection, Preservation and Community Ownership of Public Assets and Critical Infrastructure, organized by the National Orientation Agency.
Bello who was represented at the occasion by the Director of Engineering, Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, Engr. Shehu Hadi, lamented that preliminary assessment of losses put the cost of replacement of vandalized, stolen or damaged facilities in the four major roads of FCT alone at over N5 billion.
This, he noted, is money which could have been spent on executing new infrastructure or providing utilities in new districts.
The four roads include; the Outer Southern Expressway, OSEX, Outer Northern Expressway, ONEX, Inner Southern Expressway, ISEX, as well as the Circular Road among others.
Concerned over the spate of sabotage and pillage, Bello disclosed that FCT Administration has set up a committee for the replacement, reconstruction and restoration of vandalized public assets and infrastructure in the Territory.
The committee, which is headed by the Executive Secretary, FCDA, Engr. Umar Jibrin, is also to ascertain the scope of the challenge and to proffer long-lasting solutions to stem the negative development.
According to Bello, “it is always saddening to witness incidents of pillage of major components of public infrastructure such as railway lines and cables, bridge railings, manhole covers and communication ducts to mention but a few. These hoodlums sometimes dig deep into the ground to unearth armoured cables and puncture water pipelines to irrigate their farms or set up car wash centres.”
He disclosed that in the short run, security and surveillance have been beefed up around public assets and critical infrastructure in the FCT to apprehend and prosecute these hoodlums.
In addition, the administration is replacing some of these facilities with configurations that could not easily yield to hit and run theft among others.
While appealing to residents to support the administration’s efforts to combat this scourge, the minister stated that a more permanent solution to the problem both in FCT and in the country in general would include working to inculcate the spirit of community and people’s ownership of public assets and critical infrastructure in Nigerian citizens.
His words, “This could be achieved through strategic partnership between relevant government agencies, the security and intelligent agencies, non-governmental organizations, traditional institutions, religious and community organizations to mention but a few.”
In his keynote paper at the occasion, former Director-General of NOA, Chief Tonnie Iredia, stressed the need to take the people into confidence in the conception, planning and location of public assets and infrastructure, noting that the bane of the fortunes of these infrastructures has more to do with the alienation of the communities where these facilities were located.
He further noted that the people’s needs and priorities should always be taken into consideration in siting public assets and projects.
Other speakers present were former Directors-General of NOA, Dr Idi Farouk, and Mr. Mike Omeri; all of whom stressed the need to strengthen the institutional framework of NOA as a major agency for the cultivation of attitudinal change among Nigerians.
Welcoming guests to event, The Director-General, NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, stated that the wide-spread nature of the incidence of vandalism of national assets like oil pipelines, railway tracks, electricity poles and components has made it necessary to assemble stakeholders in the search for solutions to the menace.
He expressed optimism that the conference would come up with workable measures to stem the ugly trend.