From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Federal Government has admitted that the worst roads in Nigeria are located in the South South and South East.
Government also said some major federal roads in the 11 states in the zones were constructed before the 1967-1970 civil war.
Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who appeared before the Senate committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), chaired by Magnus Ngei Abe, yesterday, said efforts are in top gear to fix the roads.
Fashola also revealed that N100 billion sourced through the Sukuk Bond, was yet to be released to his ministry.
The money was supposed to construct 25 major roads in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
In his comments, Senator Abe said lawmakers, who are true representatives of the people, are usually sidelined by heads of ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government when thinking of where to site projects.
“As elected representatives of the people, if the federal government is doing anything in your areas, our input are hardly needed. We will, then, have to fight for relevance. We are meeting you because of the challenges FERMA, which is under your supervision is facing. Is this agency relevant in the scheme of things in your ministry? We need you to touch on the core challenges of this agency,” said Abe.
Fashola added: “When we did the audit of our roads, we discovered some sections are bad. Many roads have outlived their lifespan. Many roads in the South East and South South were built before the civil war. They are among the worst in the country. They need to be replaced.Funds generated from Sukuk have not been released because of the conditions tied to it. We will try and repair the roads before people start traveling for the festivities in December. We are doing something about that.”
Speaking on challenges facing FERMA, Fashola said: “One of the reccurring story of under-performance which we inherited is that of ministerial interference. We have tried to supervise without interfering. As best as possible, we try not to.I have tried to enable government see what it is spending in each of the parastatals under my ministry. In the past, FERMA spent money on areas it had no business with. That has to stop.
“If you allocate money and it is spent on local government roads, it means something is wrong. The core mandate of FERMA is to repair federal roads.
“In the past, FERMA collected monies for roads they did not construct. That has to stop in this government.
Also, Fashola told senators government has concluded plans to re-introduce tolls on roads across the country.
He said the new toll regime will be an improved adaptation of the past toll points as the ministry will adopt similar toll regime throughout the country.
“Tolls will come. We have looked at the previous tolling regime, the inefficiencies raised we have tried to review.
“One of the things we have done is to try and standardise the toll designs for the entire country. We have finished with that.”
Mr. Fashola said that the toll points will be managed by private organisations as part of the federal government’s job creation scheme.
He added that the tolls will first be re-introduced at moribund toll points previously used by the government.