By Raphael Ekpang
After a robust debate on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, the Senate passed for second reading a Bill for an Act to repeal the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (Establishment, ETC) Act 2002 (As amended) and to establish the Federal Roads Authority, Instant Africa news reports.
Leading the debate, the sponsor of the bill Sen. Gershom Bassey (PDP) Cross River South while presenting the bill informed his colleagues of the importance of repealing the said Acts in order to get the roads working again.
“Distinguished colleagues, you will agreed with me that the 36,000 km Federal road network is by far the largest and most valuable single public infrastructure asset owned by the Federal government of Nigeria and there is nowhere in the world that this expanse of road network is managed solely by government”
“But unfortunately, over 80% of goods and services are transported by road leading to tremendous pressure on our roads since other modes of transportation like; xrail and shipping are underdeveloped and air transport is too expensive for most Nigerians.
” Road development and maintenance in Nigeria seems uncoordinated and vulnerable to extreme climate events.” He said, “Funding is poor and comes in an unpredictable manner making the cost of road maintenance in Nigeria to be one of the highest in the world.”
According to Sen. Bassey, “Despite the amendment of the FERMA Act in 2007 mandating PPPRA to provide funding for road maintenance, no amount of money has been released by the PPPRA for the purpose of road maintenance as a result over N870 Billion is owed by PPPRA for road maintenance as we speak.
” Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues, the Federal Road Authority Bill seeks to create a frame work that allows other revenue streams to support government budgetary efforts on roads.”
Sen. Bassey further noted that, the bill seeks to manage the the Federal Road network so that it is safe and efficient, promote sustainable development and operation of the road sector, and facilitate the development of competitive markets.
The lawmaker insisted that the FRA will in collaboration with FRSC advise the FG on effective methods of curbing road accidents and others.
“Distinguished colleagues, the 9th Senate needs to clearly work towards revamping the Nigerian road network which has suffered neglect over the years because of poor funding. We have to immediately ensure that the 5% user pump price of petrol and diesel accruing to road maintenance from PPPRA is remitted for that purpose.”
Also joining the debate, senator Stella Udua, Sen. Barau Jibrin among others applauded and commended the sponsor of the bill while urging the senate to pass it for the seconding reading.
Meanwhile, the bill which was read the first time in the floor of the Senate chamber October 10, 2019 having received commendation and admiration of the president of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan was passed for the second reading and referred to the appropriate committee for further legislative actions.