On Tuesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on federal roads.
Decrying the deplorable condition of the roads, he called for improved budgetary allocation to fix them. Lawan, who contributed to a motion in the Senate by Senator Gersham Bassey, titled: “The deplorable state of Nigeria Federal Roads”, said N215billion was required yearly to fix federal roads.
Also lamenting about the condition of the roads, the chairman, Governing Council Board of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Tunde Lemo, said the country had been losing N1trillion yearly due to loss in man-hours as a result of bad roads and traffic snarl.
The ex-Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria spoke at the yearly stakeholders’ meeting at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. The theme of the conference was: “Road Maintenance and Reforms: Legal and Institutional Framework.
On Tuesday, during the plenary, the Senate resolved to mandate its Committees on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Petroleum Down Stream and National Planning to investigate the non-remittance of the five per cent user charge pump price of petrol and international vehicle transit charge accruing to FERMA and other road maintenance agencies.
Lawan said: “I believe that every part of this country suffers from this problem of deplorable state of our roads. So, I believe that our committees, given this instruction, will swing into action and attend to the issue associated with this motion.”
Bassey, who led the debate, said the deplorable state of federal roads had become a national shame and an embarrassment. He said there was hardly any part of the country that could boast of good federal roads. He said the Senate was concerned that scores of innocent people were kidnapped by bandits, robbed, mutilated and killed daily in avoidable accidents on account of bad federal roads.
Bassey said: “The nation’s economy suffers incalculable losses resulting from poor productivity as immeasurable man-hours are lost in deplorable federal roads.
“Nigerian federal roads have continually failed to meet the international standard that provides for a four lane divided road featuring landscaped islands and separated bike and pedestrian trails on both sides of the roadway.”
Bassey said N215 billion was required to revamp 3,500 kilometres of federal roads yearly for eight to 10 years. He said: “Section 14(1)(h) of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (Amendment Act, 2007) provides that the five per cent user charge pump price of petrol, diesel and which 40 per cent will accrue to FERMA. And 60 per cent be utilised by the established State Roads Maintenance Agencies.
“The Senate is disturbed that right from 2007, Section 14(1)(h) and 14(1)(I) of the FERMA (Amendment) Act has been observed in breach by the PPRA and the Minister of Transportation thereby depriving FERMA of huge revenue for road maintenance.
“The Senate is further disturbed that the 5 per cent user charge pump price is already provided for in the current pump price of petrol and diesel but PPRA has refused to remit the funds to FERMA for road maintenance as stipulated by law.”
Bassey, however said that PPRA’s remittance of the five per cent user charge pump price to FERMA would help ameliorate the deplorable state of federal roads.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who contributed to the debate, said urgent attention was needed to fix the roads. “This is especially within this budget cycle that we have before us here that something drastic needs to be done. PPRA should release the fund totally provided for FERMA to do its job.
“The raining season is just gradually coming to an end and this is the opportunity for FERMA to go and start rehabilitating our roads so that Nigerians can move freely. This is a very important motion moved at the most appropriate time to get the desired attention.
Lemo called for an emergency action in the road sector, saying that, if the budgetary allocation cannot fix them, the roads can be funded from alternative sources.
He said: “It is becoming clearer that legislation of a more enabling environment is required for an effective and productive management of the road for meaningful national socio-economic growth.”