The Nigerian Senate is to set take away the ownership and responsibility of road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance from the Federal Government with a newly introduced bill.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey, disclosed this in an interview in Abuja on Sunday. He added that if passed and signed into law by the President, the responsibility of road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance would be the duty of foreign and local investors.
According to Gershom Bassey, the PDP Senator representing Cross River South Senatorial District, the legislation was a no brainer as it was clear that the Federal Government was experiencing serious challenges carrying out this duty. Over the years, roads all over the country had gone terribly worse due to lack of maintenance by the various Governments, who are in charge.
Meanwhile, Mr Bassey, while speaking on the amendment of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Act, said the Act stipulates that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency to remit 5% of its pump price template to FERMA, Punch reported.
However, the Senate disclosed that since 2007 till date, the accumulated sum, which has not been remitted by the PPPRA, is about N870 billion. He added that the lawmakers were fully convinced the Federal Government was incapable of fixing roads across the country with the funds from the yearly budget.
“The PPPRA has not remitted any amount to FERMA or to the state agencies since the law was signed. The last figure we had when we started our investigation was that the unremitted funds had accumulated to N870bn which is due to both FERMA and the states’ road agencies.
“We must find a solution. The new legislation that the Senate is working on now seeks to move road construction and maintenance of the federal budget and let the private sector come in. There is no rocket science here. This idea has been working in other parts of the world and it cannot be different in Nigeria.
“Money will automatically flow into our roads because the private sector will be willing and ready to invest since they know it’s a thriving business and they would recoup their money,” Gershom Bassey said.
The proposed bill is expected to draw a framework for the private sector to come through the creation of the Federal Road Authority (FRA) which would absorb FERMA. The Federal Road Authority would be funded through an infrastructure fund and will own all roads in the country, with its only priority being to deliver good roads all over the country.