Abuja - The Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, said on Tuesday that the federal roads network needed to grow from 200 000 km to 300 00 km in the next five years.
Onolememen made the statement in a keynote address at a national conference organised by the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI).
Onolememen, represented by Dr Abubakar Mohammed, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said there was a need for Nigeria’s road network to be improved upon.
"This is necessary, considering the country’s large landmark and huge population,’’ he said.
"Government is committed to the ideals of Vision 20:2020 and the need to provide the infrastructure to kick-start and sustain the country’s rapid socio-economic development," he said.
Onolememen said the country currently had a total of 200 000 km of roads out of which only 39 000 km were paved.
"We need to compare this figure to those of the U.S. which is 6 506 204 km, India 4 109 593 km, China 3 806 800 km and Brazil 1 751 868 km.
"That of Turkey is 352 046 km and South Africa is 362 099 km.
"These figures provide a better appreciation of the enormity of challenge our nation faces in the road sector.
"So, for Nigeria to be among the first 20 economies in the world by 2020, our road infrastructure needs to grow from 200,000 km to about 300,000 km in the next five years," the minister said.
Onolememen said most parts of the new roads would serve as feeder roads to mining fields, agricultural centres, industries and other major theatres of economic activities around the country.
He, however, said the provision of the roads would be capital-intensive.
"Due to the dearth of funds, government is considering intensifying its policy on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) option in the construction of these roads.
"In addition, my ministry is seriously considering evolving effective and sustainable strategies for recouping any investment in the road sector through user-related charges," Onolememen said.
The minister said that until the recent intervention by the Federal Government, more than70 per cent of Nigerian roads were in different states of disrepair.
Onolememen identified the lack of adequate and timely maintenance of Nigerian roads as one of the major problems with the country’s road sector.
Borrofice said the failure of the roads had caused the loss of many lives with a negative impact on the socio-economic development of the country.
He said it was very important that the road sector should be given its deserved attention for the benefit of all.
The senator also advised government to recognise the importance of science, technology and innovation, as well as research and development, in economic development.
"No nation can develop in a situation where its science and technology sector and the research institutes are put in an envelope as it is in the case of Nigeria," he said.