The Managing Director of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Dr Emeka Agbasi, disclosed on Thursday that a sum of N300 billion is required annually for the maintenance of federal roads across the country.
He stated this during an interactive session held at the instance of the House Committee on FERMA chaired by Hon. Aderemi Oseni, who alleged that “the image of FERMA in the eyes of the public is one of inefficiency, corruption, and ineptitude.”
He reiterated the Committee’s resolve to rejuvenate, reposition, and redefine the agency to effectively fulfil its mandate.
Engineer Agbasi, who affirmed that the agency’s staff personnel roll-call is lopsided in favour of non-technical staff, reiterated plans towards balancing non-technical staff bias.
According to the document submitted to the Committee, the FERMA helmsman, who noted that the budgetary appropriations are presently grossly inadequate, lamented that the current budgetary appropriation (for 2023) is far less than the required target, with less than 50 per cent of the total appropriation released so far.
According to the document seen by the Nigerian Tribune, aside from the total of 90 projects awarded by the agency in 2023, no fewer than 200 other projects are being processed for award.
The Agency, through budgetary allocation and intervention for general maintenance and special repairs, executed 85 road projects valued at N132,288,002,695.20 as well as 79 projects valued at N17,144,883,320.78, while 53 projects executed through direct labour gulped N3,218,445,391.07.
In the bid to holistically address the issue of inadequate funding, Dr Agbasi unveiled plans to improve the current level of operational funding outside budgetary provisions, including sourcing support and interventions from local and international donors such as the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF), Japanese Grant Aid, SANDRAL from South Africa, USAID, and NHAI of India, among others.
He also disclosed that the agency is also exploring international multilateral support from the UK Export Finance Credit Facility (UKEF).
These include targeted special intervention funds through the Natural Resources Fund and the Ecological Fund, as well as confiscated funds from the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.
Speaking earlier, Hon. Oseni said, “It saddens me to say that the state of our roads has reached a deplorable state, resulting in untold hardship for our fellow Nigerians, hampering economic growth, and tarnishing our nation’s image.
“The image of FERMA in the eyes of the public is one of inefficiency, corruption, and ineptitude. This is a reality we cannot ignore and thus a perception that must be changed, and it is our duty as representatives of the people to take decisive actions to address this issue and ensure that FERMA becomes a beacon of hope for Nigerians.
“As stated in the Nigerian Constitution, the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
Our responsibility as the House Committee on FERMA is to uphold this principle by working tirelessly to improve the state of our roads, ensuring the safety and convenience of our citizens.
“Let me state unequivocally that the 10th National Assembly will not accept business as usual in FERMA. The days of huge budgetary allocations with little or no impact on road maintenance are over.
We are here to ensure that every naira spent by FERMA delivers tangible results for the Nigerian people.
“As a supervisory committee, it is our solemn duty to ensure that FERMA operates at the highest standard, achieves tangible results, and serves the Nigerian people effectively.
We will demand performance, value for money, accountability, transparency, and professionalism from FERMA, and this House Committee will not hesitate to utilise the full instruments of the law to sanction any misdeeds that come to our attention.”
While stressing the need to ensure improved road infrastructure, enhance transportation connectivity, and facilitate economic growth, Hon. Oseni expressed optimism that the legislative intervention will help to improve road safety, reducing accidents and fatalities on Nigerian roads.
He added that the adoption of innovative technologies and practises will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of road maintenance, resulting in reduced travel times and an improved overall user experience.
According to him, some of the challenges facing FERMA, including inadequate funding, outdated equipment, a lack of capacity, manpower shortages, etc., will be addressed through proper legislative intervention to find lasting solutions.
He said: “Most importantly and urgently, recognising the funding challenges faced by FERMA, this agenda aims to address the limitations in financial resources that hinder the agency’s ability to effectively carry out its mandate of maintaining federal roads.
“The 10th National Assembly agenda for FERMA includes expanding road infrastructure maintenance funding and achieving financial sustainability.
To this end, the legislative arm will work with FERMA to enhance, explore, and expand the 22 newly identified revenue sources.”
Credit: Nigeria Tribune