By Ike Uchechukwu
Following a motion by Senator representing Cross River Southern Senatorial District, Gershom Bassey, the Senate has charged the Federal Government to immediately declare a state of emergency on all federal roads in the country
In statement personally signed by Bassey and made available to some newsmen in Calabar Friday , the Cross River Caucus Chairman in the National Assembly said that the federal highways in Nigeria require the sum of about N215 billion per annum to revamp 3,500km of federal roads for 8-10 years for total rehabilitation to be achieved.
Bassey raised the motion, titled: “Motion on Nigeria’s Bad Roads and Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) Impending Nationwide Strike” on the floor of the Senate and it was accordingly adopted urging the federal government to do the needful.
He said that from 2016-2020, the actual funds released to FERMA by the federal government for road rehabilitation and maintenance was just about 17 percent of the required sum and this was paltry considering the extent of problems on ground.
Accordingly, in the motion raised under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders, Bassey said that the 36,000 km federal road network is the largest and most valuable single public infrastructure asset owned by the government of Nigeria and most of these roads are in a sorry state, adding that poor funding and neglect of Nigerian roads have led to the abysmal state of federal roads in the country.
“The deplorable state of the federal roads in Nigeria have become a national embarrassment as scores of innocent people are kidnapped by bandits, robbed, mutilated and killed daily in avoidable accidents on account of bad federal roads,” he said .
The lawmaker recalled that in 2019, he made a similar call through a motion for increased funding for maintenance and rehabilitation of the country’s federal highways but despite several calls, there has not been improved funding for maintenance and rehabilitation of highways in the country .
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions urged the Federal Ministry of Finance to immediately as a matter of urgent national importance release adequate funding to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to urgently carry out emergency repairs on all federal roads across the country.
The chamber also urged the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to immediately introduce weight bridges on relevant portions of all Federal highways to check overloading of trucks and tankers beyond the engineers lead bearing capacity of such roads.
Even though the strike action by NUPENG has been shelved for a while, the lawmaker said, that the NUPENG workers have threatened to cripple the Nigerian economy by a nationwide strike if the bad and shameful roads were not rehabilitated.