By Ike Uchechukwu
The Senate Committee Chairman on Federal Emergency Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey has revealed that it will cost 400 billion yearly to maintain all Federal roads in Nigeria.
Senator Bassey who made the revelation in a statement to newsmen at weekend in Calabar said we are oversighting FERMA…and in order to maintain our roads in Nigeria, FERMA had told us that it needs at least N400 billion every year just to keep the roads in a good state.
He explained that N82 billion naira project proposal was presented to the Senate committee “we are waiting to see but we, however, recommended that, that budget should be increased because of the inadequate funding for FERMA and the budget is about N82 billion of which only N63 billion is going for capital projects”.
He decried the state of federal roads in the country and the poor funding saying from all indications one can see that FERMA has inadequate funding and there is need for government to find ways to fund FERMA.
“we have two or three pieces of legislation that have gone through the Senate and National Assembly and are awaiting approval by the President and chief amongst those is the Federal Road Authority Bill which transforms the way in which we maintain and sustain roads in our country.
“If His Excellency, the President, can assent to that bill, it will go a long way in solving a lot of the road problems we are having in this country,” he said.
He further stated that the Senate had recently urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on federal roads as it also urged the Ministry of Finance to release adequate funds to FERMA as a matter of urgency so as to aid the agency in carrying out urgent road maintenance on all federal roads in the country.
Bassey who is also the Cross River National Assembly Caucus Chairman said he sponsored the motion titled: “Motion on Nigeria’s Bad Roads and NUPENG’S Impending Nationwide Strike” noted that the 36,000 km federal road network is the largest and most valuable single public infrastructure asset owned by the government of Nigeria.
“The deplorable state of the federal roads in Nigeria have become a national shame and an unnecessary embarrassment as scores of innocent people are kidnapped by bandits, robbed, mutilated and killed daily in avoidable accidents on account of bad federal roads”
Bassey recalled that in 2019, he made a similar call through a motion for increased funding for maintenance and rehabilitation of the country’s federal highways, saying from 2016-2020, the actual funds released to FERMA by the federal government for road rehabilitation and maintenance was just about 17 per cent of the required sum, adding that poor funding and neglect of Nigerian roads have led to the country’s abysmal state of federal roads.