N38bn Not Enough to Maintain Federal Roads in 2021—Senate
By Ahmed Rahma
The red chamber of the National Assembly has disclosed that the N38 billion proposed by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) for the maintenance of federal roads in the country next year would not be enough.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on FERMA, Mr Gersome Bassey, while speaking during the budget defence, stated that about N400 billion would be needed annually to put the 35,000 kilometres roads belonging to the federal government in good shape and not the meagre N38 billion in the 2021 budget estimates.
According to him, nothing meaningful can be achieved with the amount proposed in the appropriation bill still undergoing scrutiny at the parliament.
“For the 35 kilometres federal roads in the country to be motorable at all times, the sum of N400bn is required on yearly basis for maintenance,” the lawmaker said
He called for the upward review of the amount, insisting that the N38 billion earmarked for maintenance will not give Nigerians the desired results.
“What the committee submitted to the Appropriation Committee in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38 billion proposed for it by the executive which cannot cover up to one-quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portions of the road.
“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media,” he said.
Most of the federal roads across the country are in deplorable states and sometimes, the state governments are forced to repair them and await being reimbursed by the federal government. Lately, the central government has had to involve the private sector in the rehabilitation of the roads for a tax waiver.