Stakeholders have kicked against the proposed amendment to the FERMA ACT seeking to allocate one percent of the consolidated revenue fund to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to enable it meet up with challenges of road maintenance across the country.
They opposed the amendment at a public hearing on a bill for an Act to amend the Federal Road Maintenance Agency organised by the House of Representatives’ Committee on FERMA yesterday.
The bill seeks to re-structure FERMA by introducing States’ Road Maintenance Agency for all the states, increasing its funding by introducing the erection of tollgates in all the existing federal trunk roads and to provide for the funding of projects on federal roads.
In his submission, the minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said that the proposed amendment to draw 1% from the consolidated revenue fund is in contravention of the constitution, and as such should not be considered.
Fashola also picked holes in Section 1 of the amendment bill which seeks the establishment of State Roads Maintenance Agency for each state, noting that the National Assembly cannot compel states
“Section 5 of the Act deals with funding of the agency and what it says is to provide a lump some by percentage from the consolidated fund to the agency. I am not certain that it is the intention of the National Assembly to give one percent to the agency because doing that will be in conflict with constitution.”
“While I understand that the agency needs more funds, I think the best way to go about it is for the new management to get to work and get a sense of how much it costs to maintain a road and budget for it. That is the way to go rather than allocating 1%, which is unconstitutional. There can be a better method of costing.”
On the establishment of State’s Road Maintenance Agency, the minister noted that each state and local government has its own responsibilities of road maintenance, adding that while education is on the concurrent list, Trunk A road maintenance is on the exclusive, legislative list, hence it’s non-workability.
While supporting the erection of tollgates, Fashola however noted that empowering FERMA to erect and manage toll gates is in conflict with the federal highway Act which vests powers of management of rolling, construction and maintenance on the ministry.
Similarly, the Nigeria Society of Engineers, NSE, noted that the National Assembly cannot direct state assemblies on what laws to make, adding that FERMA already had staff across every state of the country.
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