By Chris OCHAYI
To avoid imminent total collapse of Federal highways in the country, the House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, has asked the Federal Government to inject over N500billion as an intervention fund to rescue the sector from the current deteriorating status.
The Sub Committee also wants the federal government to raise the N500 billion bond from the capital market to address the rot in the road sector.
FERMA, according to the sub-committee, would require about N100billion annually to enable it carry out proper maintenance of the roads as most of the roads being maintained had outlived their lifespan.
The Sub Committee’s Chairman, Mr Aniedi King who made the remarks during the Committee’s inspection tour of the Benin-Ore-Sagamu road and Okene-Ikare road, respectively, insisted that the country needed good roads to facilitate its economic development.
He argued that al though road construction and maintenance are capital intense, the expenditure is worthwhile because the provision of good roads infrastructure would go a long way to facilitate economic development and enhance movement of people, goods and services from one place to the other.
Mr King who led the other legislators on the inspection tour of the highways, noted that the tour was necessitated by public outcry over the dilapidated state of federal roads across the country.
“After due consultations with the Chairman of the committee on Works, the sub-committee was mandated to visit the Okene-Ikare road awarded to Bulletin and later terminated due to poor performance and the Benin-Ore-Sagamu road” he said.
He observed that unless such an attempt to raise about N500billion bond is made for the road sector, the nation’s federal roads would continue to be in bad shape.
Another member of the committee, Mr Aliyu Ahaman told newsmen shortly after the inspection that after plying through the Okone-Ikare road, the members felt happy with the termination of that contract because the contractor’s handling the project had performed abysmally.
Hon. Ahaman stressed further that the Benin-Ore-Sagamu road is very critical to the nation’s economic growth and development, considering that it is the only road linking Lagos with the East.
He however explained that the contractor handling the rehabilitation project pulled out of the site due to security challenges.
Noting that the contractor, Renoyld Construction Company had so far, done very reasonable and competent job, Aneide said that the committee would interface with the minister and RCC to see how we can provide security cover to enable the contractor go back to site as soon as possible
The Chairman who commended the intervention work carried out by FERMA on the road said, “this is Christmas period and there would be a lot of vehicular movement. There is a lot of public outcry on the dilapidated state of this road and we came to find out what FERMA is doing to ameliorate the difficulties Nigerians go through on this road. FERMA has really done very well and we commend them.”
Earlier, FERMA Zonal Director South-South, Engr Kajogbola, told the committee that there is an existing federal government contract awarded to RCC on the road but that the contractor stopped work due to the recent kidnapping of their staff.