From ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja
Federal Government has developed a plan towards professionalising road development, which at full implementation, will create a Federal Roads Development Authority (FRDA) in place of Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
Speaking at the 90 Minutes Programme on Roads Infrastructure on African International Television (AIT), Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, said FERMA was not the original concept when road development was conceived but the administration at the time did not want to relinquish responsibility for awarding contracts, so it created FERMA.
According to him, at the beginning, what was recommended at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was the creation of Federal Road Authority.
“What we are saying is that we want road development to be fully professionalised in this country like in every other country in the world. I have visited a few countries like India, Malaysia, Kenya and even Ghana and road development is professionalised. Bureaucracy has no business in doing what it is doing just now as far as road development is concerned.
We need to have a National Road Authority or Federal Road Authority like you have in India, the National Highway Authority of India or like you have in Kenya or in Israel or in the UK- everywhere.
That is what we are recommending and when that comes on stream, the Federal Roads Authority will now take over the Federal Ministry of Works’ responsibility for designing, construction and rehabilitation of highways across the country. They will now be the rightful owners of the highway. The ministry will just do policy issue and supervise and monitor them,” he said.
Onolememen also said that apart from Federal Road Authority, the nation would have a National Road Fund where all the charges on the road would be channelled.
The minister said that charges such as the five per cent fuel tax, toll charges and international transit charges, which are practised in other countries, would be domiciled in the fund.
“Apart from the Federal Road Authority, we will now have a National Road Fund where we can pool together all sorts of charges. In other countries, the implementation of the five per cent of fuel tax is domiciled at the road fund. I talked about the international vehicle transit charge a while ago.
If we have toll plaza, whatever we collect, all goes to the road fund. Sometimes, you have grants from the government.
“In some countries, they have first-line charges just 1.5 per cent goes to the road fund.”