The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is rehabilitating expressway across the country, given a ray of hope that accidents on the highways would be reduced during the Yuletide, Christopher Isiguzo reports
For too long, Nigerians have been victims of ghastly motor accidents occasioned by the poorly maintained roads. Lives are lost daily and automobiles are damaged too frequently.
Added to this, is the inability of the relevant agency, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to patch the pot holes to a manageable proportions. Thus, many have lost confidence in FERMA and naturally written it off in the process.
Mrs. Morenike Ojeleye who was involved in a road accident along Lokoja-Abuja highway in June this year said: “We are in a hell of a country. The big holes on the road first consumed the car in which we were travelling before it took the lives of 12 of the passengers. I was the only one that escaped, but with broken legs and badly damaged body. “ Ojeleye had remained on her hospital bed since June.
When the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) reels out statistics of death from road accident, it’s usually on the upward side every year.
But now, there is a ray of hope. Only last week, the Senate at its plenary session ordered the rehabilitation and maintenance of federal roads in some communities in Zamfara State to enable residents move freely from one point to the other and most importantly to safeguard lives from more accidents being caused by the damaged roads.
And in 2013, FERMA would take the plunge for the construction and rehabilitation of the roads across the country. The plan, FERMA Managing Director, Mr. Gabriel Amuchi said, “It is well laid out.”
According to Amuchi, FERMA has identified and prioritised road recovery projects based on a number of factors. They include identification and assessment of the present condition of roads and the extent of decay, cost implications, traffic volumes, economic importance and geographical spread.
To that end, the operations, he said, will focus on general repairs and pavement strengthening as well as progressive works to address rehabilitation backlogs within the funds made available to the agency.
“Everyone knows that good roads are critical segments of economic activities in the country therefore the agency shall not be hesitant to embark on a massive road repair in the 2013 road programmes that is aimed at recovering a substantial failed sections of the highways.” Amuchi said.
According to him, apart from economically viable roads and roads with high traffic volume, this massive maintenance work shall cut across the six geo-political zones of the country to situate government presence in all the regions.
The country has a total of about 34. 000 kilometers of federal roads currently being maintained through various methods, but the conditions of some of these roads are indeed very deplorable.
The only effective and efficient means of transferring goods and services within the country and to neighbouring countries has therefore suffered neglect. It is now taking its tolls on the lives of Nigerians and the economy of the country.
Though, FERMA, Nigerians say has ignored its responsibilities by not carrying out routine maintenance work on all the federal roads at the same time, but that may be a hard nut to crack considering the fact that the government business is tied to due process and yearly budgets.
Perhaps, what is not clear to many a Nigerian is the role of an ongoing Subsidy Re-investment programme called SURE-P in re-construction and rehabilitation of roads across the country.
For instance, FERMA has recently initiated its public works geared towards preventive maintenance to ensure that economically viable routes are motor-able all year round.
To achieve these, necessary equipment were acquired, technicians trained and deployed to work under the supervision of experienced field engineers and management team of the agency to achieve desired results.
Amuchi says, “This aspect of government intervention has created employment for Nigerian youths and FERMA as an agency has added to its fleet of engineers to carry out regular maintenance work on highways.
And for a man popping out his eye on the social responsibility of the corporations, he asked
“What stops Dangote Group as a major beneficiaries and heavy users of these roads especially routes plied by the manufacturing companies from saying to FERMA come lets jointly intervene on failed sections of a particular route of interest?.”
As part of the efforts by the Federal Government to make more roads motorable especially for motorists during the yuletide season, FERMA has commenced the rehabilitation of the failed portions of the 200-kilometres Enugu–Port-Harcourt Expressway.
Describing the road as having ‘failed beyond repairs’ the FERMA boss, added that already four contractors as well as direct labours have been engaged to ensure speedy completion of the repairs before December.
“This is a road that had challenges for over four years now and since this administration came, it has directed that it will ensure that major maintenance work is done to make this road motorbale before December. So the maintenance we are doing now is in several segments that includes direct labour operations and selected repairs.”
“It is in line with the mandate of the administration to ensure we make the road motorable before December. In this location, you will find that FERMA has started major intervention, they have removed all the heaps of garbage on the road, we are also going to do similar thing on the other carriageway. We have instructed the contractors to move round to ensure that these areas are permanently reinstated,” he said.
Amunchi said the agency would soon relocate the trailers parking along the road at Lokpanta to a more convenient place so as to ensure free movement on the road.
FERMA has reiterated its determination to recover lost kilometres of roads in its 2013 in what it termed, “Operation Road Recovery” to give impetus to the road transport sector and government business as well.
Amuchi says, “Many Nigerians don’t like flying but the state of our roads has compelled a greater percentage of the people to resort to travelling by non air worthy aircrafts that have claimed the lives of people.”
FERMA has also been given approval for the rehabilitation of Ilorin-Omu-Aran-Egbe highway to ease traffic flow during the Christmas period. Road traversing towns such as Ajase-Ipo, Idofian, Oro, Oke-Onigbin,Omu-Aran and part of Egbe in Kogi, is currently in a deplorable condition.
Five years after the contract for the Makurdi-Otukpo-9th mile road was awarded, contractors handling the project have assured that the road will be completed by next year.
The contract for the 76km road was initially awarded to Bulletin Limited, but was revoked five years later for poor execution.
It was later re-awarded to Rockbridge in 2011, at the sum of N4.2 billion.
Project Manager, Engr. Iyad, who said work on the project so far is about 24 per cent, blamed the slow pace of work on the kidnap of his brother and the rains.
He, however, promised that the project will be completed by March/April 2013.