By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — THE Senate yesterday decried the state of bad roads across the country and has begun moves to scrap the present Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, as the bill passed second reading.
FERMA is to be replaced by an agency called the Federal Roads Authority.
The Senate said the establishment of the Federal Roads Authority, FRA, would put an end to the duplication of functions between FERMA and the Highways Department of the Ministry of Works.
Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano North, said when passed into law, the proposed FRA would be a semi-autonomous road agency.
According to him, the new agency will be responsible for the professional management of federal roads in the country, including planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance as well as prescribe measures for preventing damage.
The bill also spelt out the fact that anyone who damages any road would bear the cost of repairing the road.
The bill, which scaled second reading yesterday, was referred to Senate Committee on Works, with three weeks to report back.
In his lead debate, Senator Gaya said: “Permit me to lead the debate of this important Bill which seeks to repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act N7 LFN 2002 and to establish the Federal Roads Authority.
“The Bill was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The Federal Roads Authority which would be a semi-autonomous road agency, will be responsible for the professional management of federal roads in the country, involving planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, thereby ending the duplication of functions between FERMA and the Highways Department of the Ministry of Works.
“Over the years, the country has established Maritime Authority, Inland Waterways Authority and Airports Authority. The “road”, which is the most essential link for all other transport modes as we speak, has no Authority, hence the need for this Bill to be passed into law.
“The creation of the FRA is in line with international road management practice. It is obvious that any country that needs to grow must be responsive to its infrastructure development needs. Nigeria’s intention of being among the top 20 developed countries by the year 2020 will be a mirage if the infrastructure potentials of the nation, especially roads, are not harnessed, developed and sustained.
“Road transportation remains the cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, accounting for about 95 percent of cargo and passenger traffic. There is, therefore, the need for a sustainable development and maintenance of our country’s road transportation infrastructure as to provide a safe, reliable and free flowing system for motorists and other road users in order to facilitate economic activities in the country.”