FG Needs N400bn to Repair, Maintain Roads, Says Lawmaker

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Bassey Inyang in Calabar

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Emergency Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey, has disclosed that it will require about N400 billion to repair and maintain all federal roads in the country.

Bassey, who is the representative of Cross River South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, stated this in a press statement made available to THISDAY in Calabar on Sunday.

“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 said.

According to Bassey, the N82 billion proposed for FERMA in the 2022 budget is abysmally low when considered from the about N400 billion required for maintenance of federal roads.

Speaking on the budget proposal, which is before the Senate Committee on FERMA, Bassey said: “We are waiting to see but we however recommended that the 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.”

The senator condemned the deplorable state of federal roads in the country owing to 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.”

Commenting on the proposed Federal Road Authority Act, which he noted would tremendously transforms federal roads, Bassey said: “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.”

Bassey said the Senate had recently urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency on federal roads, and also urged the Federal Ministry of Finance to urgently release adequate funds to FERMA so as to enable the agency carry out urgent maintenance on every federal road in the country.

He disclosed that from 2016 to 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, and that poor funding and neglect of Nigerian roads have led to the country’s abysmal state of federal roads.

The senator, who is also the Chairman, Cross River National Assembly Caucus, said that the 36,000 km federal road network is the largest and most valuable single public infrastructure asset owned by the federal government.

Commenting on a Motion on Nigeria’s Bad Roads and NUPENG’S Impending Nationwide Strike, which he sponsored recently, Bassey said: “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 said that in 2019, he made a similar call through a motion for increased funding for maintenance and rehabilitation of the country’s federal highways.