…As senators, Fashola brainstorm on way forward
From FRED ITUA, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Thursday, admitted that the worst roads in the country were located in South South and South East geopolitical zones.
It said some of the major federal roads in the 11 states comprising the two zones were constructed before the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War.
Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who appeared before members of the Senate committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), headed by Sen. Magnus Abe, said efforts were in top gear to fix the roads.
Fashola also revealed that the N100 billion sourced through the Sukuk Bond was yet to be released to his Ministry to carry out 25 major road constructions in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Sen. Abe, had while speaking, said lawmakers who are the true representatives of the people, are usually sidelined by heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government when mulling citing of projects.
Abe said: “As elected representatives of the people, if the Federal Government is doing anything in your areas, our inputs 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 your scheme of things in your Ministry? We need you to touch on the core challenges of this agency.”
Fashola on his own, said: “When we did the audit of our roads, we discovered some sections are bad. Many roads have outlived their lifespans. 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 noted: “One of the reoccurring 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.
“FERMA can be the largest construction company in the country. It depends on what we are willing to put into the agency. In the past, FERMA collected monies for roads they did not construct. That has to stop in this government.
“We are working with the Army Corps to see how we can develop local content. FERMA can be biggest construction firm. The unemployment challenges we have can be reduced if FERMA is busy is every state.”