The House of Representatives Committee on Works, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Federal Roads Authority, (FRA) bill into law, so as to ensure rapid transformation of the Nigerian roads sector.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Toby Okechukwu gave the advice in a chat with journalists, weekend in Abuja.
He noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration stands the chance of rewriting the history of the the Nigerian roads sector if he endorses the bill immediately.
According to him, the bill, if passed into law will manage the federal roads network so that it’s safe and efficient with a view to meeting the socio-economic demands of the nation and promote the sustainable development and operation of the road sector.
“This piece of legislation has been on a legislative sojourn since 1971 and has failed to see the light of the day until we decided to hold the bull by the horns and passed it just last week. As a Committee we are grateful to the Speaker because he had to take the Bill himself in the absence of the deputy speaker, we actually had to amend our Rules for him to be able to sit as Chairman of the Committee to consider the report. The Federal Roads Authority Bill is one of the reform bills that have passed through the House, actually we are concurring what the Senate has passed,” he said.
“We had earlier on passed the Roads Fund Bill, these are fundamental reform bills that will make it possible for us to perform in accordance to what happens in other jurisdictions; it means the road sector will now be functional, they would be able to raise funds through other sources, they will be able to commercialize the roads, they would have road user charges that would eventually seed capital for funding the road sector. Essentially what we do annually is to intervene through appropriation and most of the times you will find out the contractors know the budget more than you who is preparing it; once the road is not in the budget they will disappear, they will down their tools but with the seed capital which you can get from the Roads Fund, it will now be possible for you to have fund even if you are raising about a 100billion, the combined effect of that with annual Appropriation Bill will be significant in such a way that you would be able to maintain your roads, you will be able to develop new ones,”he added.
Okechukwu said the proposed law will facilitate private sector participation in the development, financing, maintaining, management and improvement of roads in Nigeria and enter into road concession contracts and other forms of Public Private Partnership and set guidelines for the working of PPP contracts.
“What we have presently is a situation where because of the life span of the construction of our roads, you have a situation where a road that is supposed to be constructed within 2years, is constructed in 5-10years and by the time you are finishing, you are due for maintenance meanwhile the road is an ongoing project, so you begin to have potholes develop from kilometer zero to the portion where you have finished. Actually my own understanding about reforming or giving momentum to any sector is that once you want to do that, you must get the necessary instruments based on which you can operate,” he stated.