Hope Rises for Nigerian Roads as House Passes Vital Road Bills

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Tolulope Ibukunoluwa

The House of Representatives has passed the National Roads Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2019 and the Federal Roads Bill aimed at addressing poor road infrastructure in the country.

The Bills, which were sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) and the Chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Protocols, Hon. Ossai Nicholas (PDP, Delta), were passed at Wednesday plenary before the House adjourned till January for the Christmas and New Year break. The National Road Fund Bill seeks to establish a National Roads Fund seeks to provide predictable and sustainable funding for road maintenance in order to promote the sustainable development and management of the nation’s road network as well as establish a repository of revenues accruing from road user related charges and other sources for financing, which shall be managed and administered for routine and periodic maintenance works on roads and related matters in Nigeria.

Sources of fund, according to the bill, include, fuel levy, axle load control charges, toll fees, international vehicle transit charges, inter-state mass transit user charge, and roads fund surcharge on any vehicle imported into Nigeria. Others are lease, license or other fees, grants, and loans. The Federal Roads Bill, on the other hand, seeks to repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act (FERMA) Act, Federal Highways Act, and the Control of Advertisement on Federal Highways Act to establish an agency to govern and manage the nation’s federal roads network.

The agency would also facilitate Private Sector participation in the development, financing, maintenance, management, and improvement of roads in Nigeria, including contracts for road concession and other forms of Public Private Partnership as well as set guidelines for the working of PPP contracts.

The agency would be further laden with the responsibilities of planning and managing the development of road safety technical designs and standards, and also seek revenue generating opportunities from the asset itself and its management from lease or license or other fees pertaining to non-vehicular road usages such as advertising, cables, masts, etc.

It is recalled that both Bills were passed by the 8th National Assembly as panacea for the broken-down road infrastructure, but did not receive assent of President Muhammadu Buhari, who raised some concerns.
It was, therefore, reintroduced and passed in the current House of Representatives and would now await concurrence by the Senate.