As it intensifies effort to reconstruct and revamp highways for free flow of traffic across the country, the Federal Government has directed Federal Controllers of Works to ensure the removal of all obstructions on the Right of Ways.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, stated this while meeting in Abuja with Federal Controllers of Works and Sector Commanders of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) from across the federation.
In a press release signed and issued by the Minister’s Special Adviser, Communications, Hakeem Bello, the Minister also directed that issuance of permits for erection of structures on Right of Ways on Federal Highway as well as renewal for those who already have such structures on the highways be stopped forthwith.
He said that while those with permit would be allowed to stay till the expiration of such permit, those with no permit should immediately leave the Right of Way.
Expressing dismay at the ease with which the permits are issued in the name of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Fashola told the controllers, “Our first step is how to secure our Right of Way back. We have the right of way in this country, 45 metres from the centre line”.
The Minister pointed out that roads are built to move human beings, goods and services with ease; hence the purpose is defeated “If after building the roads we issue all sorts of permits on the Right of Way of the roads we have built in the name of Internally Generated Revenue”.
“If that road works, you will take personal benefits. One, you will spend less on food, I assure you, because the average transporter, whether the road is good or bad, will move and by the time he gets to his destination he just calculates how much extra fuel he has burnt and he will pass it into the full cost. Then you come complaining that the price of a bag of rice has gone up to N20, 000,” the Minister said.
The Minister, who advocated synergy with state governments, FRSC and other stakeholders to get it right on the highways, also stated that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has been notified to stop issuing permits for petrol stations on Right of Ways.
The Minister however said there was no plan to start breaking the structures currently on them, adding that “there is an enlightenment process that we must pursue in doing this. But we must plan it together. Tell the people there is no more renewal of licenses you have given. Stop the renewal”.
In his remarks, the Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, noted that the challenge before the Ministry was enormous especially as regards to getting things right on Federal roads pointing out that it had become a common sight to see “civilian volunteers” patching sections of the highways as one travelled across the country.