Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene and fix the bad federal roads in the state.
The governor said this during his visit to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
He told the minister that the deplorable state of all federal roads across the state have led to recurrent accidents in the state and appealed to the minister to expedite action in carrying out reconstruction of roads across the state to curtail the preventable accidents.
Fashola in response said he has directed the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to immediately move into action to fix the bad portion of the road at the Felele end of the Okene/Lokoja/Abuja road.
He assured the governor that the ministry will use the remaining part of the year to achieve more in fulfilling the governor’s request in respect of federal roads in the state.
The governor’s visit to the minister came in the wake of a road accident involving a tanker and other vehicles on the Okene/Lokoja/Abuja road that resulted in an explosion that claimed over 20 lives in the Felele area of Lokoja on Wednesday.
Fashola commiserated with the governor, people, and government of Kogi State over the accident that claimed lives on Wednesday in Lokoja.
Imo State governor on Thursday visited President Muhammadu Buhari requesting for a refund of state funds spent building federal roads in the state.
Governor Hope Uzodimma while briefing state house correspondents after the private meeting with the President said the state is in financial distress and that the refunded money will help with the payment of pensions and salary arrears.
The Senate has said it will invite the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to explain the whereabouts of the over N800 billion collected for the maintenance of roads across the country.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan in a statement, stated that the funds meant to be remitted to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) cannot be swept under the carpet.
Lawan, in his concluding remarks on a bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002 and to establish the Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2019, stressed that corruption is responsible for some of the challenges facing the road sector in Nigeria.
“Corruption is also responsible for some of the challenges we face in our road sector.
“I believe that we need to demand what happened to over N800 billion that PPPRA was alleged to have collected.
“I think that we will take that as a separate issue because we need to verify and confirm, even for the sake of allowing PPPRA to defend itself, because this is not something that we can sweep under the carpet. N800 billion can do a lot of things for our country,” Lawan said.
According to the Senate President, previous efforts by Nigeria to concession government enterprise failed.
“We recall that the privatization of various enterprises was made right from 1986 till date, and in most cases the privatization or concessioning processes were flawed and of course, we suffer as a country.”
“So, we just have to be very careful. We insist we go on the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) partnership, but we have to ensure that everything is done within the law as required, so that no one takes advantage of his position in government to short-change the entire people of the country.”
Meanwhile, sponsor of the bill, Senator Gershom Bassey, in his lead debate, decried the pressure exerted on Nigerian roads, owing to the underdeveloped nature of other means of transportation.
“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.
“But unfortunately, over 80 percent of goods and services are transported by road leading to tremendous pressure on our roads since other modes of transportation like rail and shipping are underdeveloped and air transport is too expensive for most Nigerians.”
He stated that the bill if passed into law would amongst other things, promote the sustainable development and operation of the road sector; and facilitate the development of competitive markets and the promotion of enabling environment for private sector participation in financing, maintenance and improvement of roads in Nigeria.
The Senate has asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on federal roads across the country.
Lawmakers in the Senate made the request during Tuesday’s plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
This followed a motion raised by Senator Gershom Bassey from Cross River State who decried the deplorable state of federal roads in Nigeria.
Senator Bassey also informed the Senate that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has failed to remit the five per cent user charge of fuel pump price to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), as stipulated in the Act for the rehabilitation of federal roads.
In its resolution, the Senate ordered its committees on Petroleum and FERMA to investigate the alleged non-remittance of funds by PPPRA for the rehabilitation of roads in the country.
Buhari Seeks Approval
Meanwhile, the Senate received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari for approval to pay Kogi State Government N10.069 billion as a refund of money spent by the state on behalf of the Federal Government.
The request was contained in a letter dated October 10 and read by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, during plenary.
The requested amount was for the settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government to Kogi for projects executed on its behalf.
President Buhari, in the letter, recalled that 24 out of 25 state governments had received the approval of the National Assembly for the settlement of claims on projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
He added that the sum of N10.069 billion was the outstanding amount due to the Kogi State government, the only state yet to receive a refund.
The letter reads: “The Distinguished Senate President would recall that, based on my request for the Resolution of the National Assembly approving the establishment of a promissory note programme and a Bond Issuance to settle inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations of the Federal Government, the 8th National Assembly passed Resolutions approving the Issuance of Promissory Notes to refund State Governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The Resolutions of the 8th Assembly were conveyed through three different letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly as follows: Letter dated July 27, 2018 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.10/277 which approved the Issuance of Promissory notes to 21 states.
“Letter dated January 29, 2019 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/004 which approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to Delta and Taraba States; and letter dated May 23, 2019 and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/164 which approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to Bauchi State.
“The three Resolutions approved the Issuance of Promissory Notes to 24 out of the 25 State Governments requested, and the only State for which approval has not been given is Kogi State, with an outstanding claim of N10,069,692,410.15 (Ten billion, Sixty-Nine million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Two thousand, Four Hundred and Ten Naira, Fifteen Kobo).
“The Senate may wish to note that, subsequent to Resolutions of the National Assembly approving the refunds to the 24 State Governments, the Federal Government has issued Promissory Notes to all the approved States for the settlement of their claims.
“Accordingly, the Senate is hereby requested to kindly approve, the Issuance of a Promissory Note in the sum of N10, 069,692,410.15 as a refund to Kogi State Government for Projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.”
The President’s request was, thereafter, referred to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative work.
Motorists who ply the Agbor-Uromi road and residents of the communities along that road are calling on the Federal Government to speed up the construction of the road in view of the hardship suffered by users of the road.
Farmers and traders who use the road told Channels Television that they suffered losses during the rainy seasons as they could not evacuate their harvest to the city for sale.
Channels TV visited the community on Ekpon market day and found wares on display. Most of the items were food products from the community farm, but farmers, traders and motorists alike say travelling on the road has been a major challenge.
One Mrs Rachael said: “It affects our business because we don’t see vehicles going to nearby towns easily. They would demand 3,000 to 4,000 naira for a trip that we normally would pay 600 to 1,000.”
Another one, Mr Danladi said: “We are praying the government to do something within this dry season because by next rainy season I don’t think anybody can use this road any longer.”
The Zonal Coordinator of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) South-South 2, Mr Richard Ohre, said that the road has been awarded to a company called Setraco and they were awaiting mobilisation
“That road is awarded for dualization. FERMA does not award road for dualization, we only do maintenance and once it is awarded for dualization by the Federal Ministry of Works we do not go there to do anything.
“For long we have been doing small intervention to make sure that it is motorable but because of funds we cannot even intervene,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Justin Okonobo, has said that the House would invite the contractor to find ways to speed up the road construction.
He said: “As we resume now, we might not be able to invite the Federal Government but we will invite Setraco. Let Setraco tell us what their problems are about getting mobilised.
“FERMA does not have any excuse. FERMA is for maintenance, before Setraco is mobilised they are supposed to provide palliative measures.”
The National Council on Works has approved the repair of all federal roads with illegal speed breaker bumps, while criminalizing the illegal digging up of the roads by youths.
The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, disclosed this at the just concluded 2016 annual retreat in Makurdi, the Benue state capital, for officers from Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states.
Mr Oyeyemi while lamenting the dangerous effects which the harmful practice has on the durability of the federal highways, called on Governor Samuel Ortom to help curb the rising criminal act of altering the design of the roads in Benue state.
According to the council, the act has led to frequent road crashes, while the increased rate of road accidents across the country have been said to account for about six thousand deaths annually.
Drivers in their bid to maneuver the deplorable road conditions, often run into head-on collision with in coming vehicle, as a result of the bad roads.
A bus driver, Alfred Abah, accused the youths in the community of deliberate destruction of public infrastructure, as he explained that motorists have to do everything possible to avoid the potholes while plying the Makurdi-Lafia road along the Yelwata axis.
One of the youths in Yelwata, Amos Ogwu, in an interview with Channels Television, explained that they decided to dig up deep holes as well as construct speed breaks as a result of the reckless driving of some motorists which has led to several fatal accidents.
The growing trend is what the Corps Marshal campaigning against, while disclosing that such act amounts to criminal offence.
Mr Oyeyemi also added that, the National Council of Works has given approval to correct such illegal erection of bumps as well as road vandalization.
At the end of the retreat, Governor Samuel Ortom, said he had directed the Ministry Of Works to fix all cases of illegal alterations across the state.
On the other hand, the communities along Federal highways across the country have to be sensitized on the dangers of illegal alterations of the road design, in order to reduce accident rates.
The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has called on Federal Government for immediate intervention and rehabilitation of all federal roads in the state.
Describing all federal roads as deplorable, the Governor said that the Apex Government’s intervention was needed to reduce the hardship faced by motorists and other road users.
Niger State being about one-tenth of the country’s land mass with the longest stretch of federal roads in the country, Governor Bello pointed out that the state bears most of the suffering caused by the bad state of the roads.
He said “It is not Nigerlites alone that suffer the bad state of all these federal roads but all other commuters who travel from north to south and south to north.
“We are however the worst hit, the development has started to affect the people and the state economy.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government to quickly intervene in rehabilitating these roads, as the state-maintained roads are now being over stretched and damaged by the heavy duty trucks, being the only (state roads) available to motorists”.
The maintenance of Lapai/Gulu/Muye Road is also receiving state government attention.
Federal roads in the state include Minna/Suleja Road; Mokwa/Bida Road; Bida/Agaie/Lapai/Lambata Road; Mokwa/Bokani /Makera/Tegina/Pandogari Road Makera/Kontagora Road, Minna/Sarkin Pawa/Kaduna Road.
Others are Kontagora/Yauri Road; Gulu/Muye/Gegu Road; Baro/Katcha/Agaie Road; Kontagora/Rijau Road, Bida/Lemu /Wushishi/Tegina Road and Mokwa/New Bussa Road.
The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has decried the deplorable state of federal roads in Nigeria’s southeast region.
The NUJ calls on the Federal Government and governors of the five states in the region to as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on the roads.
The National Vice Chairman of the union, Zone C, Chris Isiguzo, made the call on Friday at a meeting with the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, at the Government House in Owerri, the state’s capital.
Speaking in company of the NUJ executive members of Zone C, Mr Isiguzo described all the federal roads in the southeast as a ‘death trap’.
He identified the Owerri-Okigwe Road, Onitsha- Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Aba-Ikot-Ekpene-Uyo Expressway and Owerri-Port Harcourt Road among others as some of the important roads in the region.
The NUJ executive urged the Federal Government in collaboration with the governors to find a solution to the problem, so as to make life easier for the people of the south-east.
He also asked the governors to tackle the continuous attacks on the people of the region by suspected herdsmen.
In his response, Governor Okorocha blamed the road dilapidation in the region on previous governments, saying there were neglected.
However, he promised to call on his colleagues to see how most of the issues raised would be tackled headlong.
The Kaduna State Government has commenced the rehabilitation of some Federal Government-owned roads in the state capital following the collapse of the roads.
The state government says the intervention is to ensure that road users within the state have accident-free and safe motoring.
The roads which include the Nnamdi Azikwe western by-pass and Ahmadu Bello is being repaired by the Kaduna State Public Works Agency (KAPWA).
The Kagoro junction along the Nnamdi Azikwe western by-pass in the state capital is in a deplorable condition, with some portions of it washed away by the rains, thereby making things difficult for motorists.
The over 20 kilometre road which connects to Zaria, Kano and other neigbouring states in the north had been left unattended to for many years.
There has been excitement among residents and commuters following the commencement of rehabilitation work on the road by the works agency.
The General Manager of the Kaduna State Public Works Agency, Tanimu Abubakar, said that over 100 roads in the state capital, Zaria and Kafanchan will under go similar rehabilitation in order to ease the suffering of commuters.
While commending the state government for the intervention, the residents also appealed to the agency handling the repair work to ensure its speedy completion especially now that the rains have become heavier.
To ensure speedy rehabilitation of the road, youths in the area have also been rendering assistance to the state government officials.
Members of the Enugu State House of Assembly have called on the Federal Government to reimburse the State Government 25.9 billion Naira used to rehabilitate federal roads across the state.
The legislatures moved the motion in a plenary session at the Legislative Complex in Enugu on Monday.
A member representing Nsukka East Constituency, Honourable Chinedu Nwamba, moved the motion explaining that the immediate past administration of Governor Sullivan Chime, two years ago, carried out reconstruction and rehabilitation of over 10 federal roads.
He said the decision to reconstruct the road was taken due to the daily loss of lives, decreasing economic activities and untold hardship citizens faced plying the route.
Mr Nwamba said that the reimbursement would go a long way in assisting the present administration to enhance development in several other sectors of development including agriculture, commerce, education and tourism.
Other members of the House also contributed in the appeal, explaining that the state needed the money to remain afloat in developmental activities.
With the house having a unanimous voice in the appeal, it is clear that the situation is critical.
Urgent reimbursement of the money owed the State Government would help keep hope alive in the various communities of the state, the lawmakers believe.