By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, has concluded plans to send a proposal to President Goodluck Jonathan, to start the implementation of the International Vehicles Transit Charge, IVTC, which according to it would fetch the agency N10 billion annually.
Managing Director of FERMA, Engr. Kabir Abdullahi who disclosed this in Abuja during an interactive session with journalists, said if the IVTC comes on stream, it would reduce the challenge of funds currently hindering the agency’s determination to deliver its mandate of providing motorable roads to the Nigerian public,
Engr. Abdullahi regretted that while other nations were generating huge revenue through enforcement of the IVTC, Nigeria left its own international transit free for vehicular movements.
The IVTC was approved by National Assembly in the 2007 FERMA (Amendment) Act as a source of funding for the agency.
Engr. Abdullahi also pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to commence the implementation of the 5 percent users’ charge on pump prices of the petroleum products approved for it by the National Assembly in the 2007 FERMA (amendment) Act.
The Amendment Act, which approved the deduction of 5 percent user’s charge from the current prices of petroleum products and IVTC, was signed into law on May 25, 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but is to be implemented by the Federal Government.
The Act also spelt out the sharing formula of which 40 percent will accrue to FERMA and the 60 percent to be utilized by the established States Roads Maintenance Agencies.
Engr. Kabir regretted that the Act could not be implemented almost four years after it was signed.
“If a law is passed by the National Assembly and it is assented to by the President, then the implementation commences but in this case, since 2007 till date no money was given to FERMA as accruing from the 5 percent user’s charge. So where is this money? Who is keeping what for who? I have asked the members of the National Assembly this question the last time I met with them,” he said.
Engr. Abdullahi who noted that the agency required about N130 billion to effectively fix the nation’s 34, 000 kilometres of highways, further pleaded with the presidency to give petroleum Products Pricing Regulating Agency, PPRRA, the charge to start the implementation of the Act.
He regretted that what the agency was getting from as budgetary allocations from the federation account was crossly inadequate to meet the challenges of maintenance of the highways some of which have outlived their life span.
Engr. Abdullahi said he met N5 billion when assumed office as the helmsman of the agency in August 2009 and got another N40 billion as annual budgetary allocation for the 2010.
Given the critical situation of the road network, the agency according to him embarked on aggressive general repairs, which include patching, rehabilitations and asphalt overlaying of completely failed portions on highways through the Direct Labour and engagement of contractors on retainership.
He said the programme however paid off, as the agency was able to maintain 4, 300 kilometres of roads and constructions of 1,680 drainages across the country.
Citing overloading as most major thing responsible for road failures in the country, Engr. Abdullahi, called for construction of weigh bridges on our highways in order to check the amount of luggage been carried by the driver’s on our federal highways.
He said, “the major thing that is destroying our federal roads is overloading as our roads is designed to carry loads of 30 tons but some drivers carry loads as much as 70 to 100 tons, he noted.
He noted that about 90% of the federal roads lacked adequate drainage system which is also another problem destroying the federal roads in the country, noting that his agency would soon start building observation camps, ‘Road Gang’ by direct labour to checkmate illegal road usage.
One other major achievements of the agency he said, was the construction of streets lighting on the major bridges in the country, which include the Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State and the Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Kogi State amongst others.
He said the mandate of FERMA is to maintain the federal roads and it is not to construct, reconstruct and not to rehabilitate the federal roads.