In a bid to fulfilling its mandate and to make traveling across the country easier for the road users, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) conveyed Stakeholders Forum recently at the International Conference Centre, Abuja to brainstorm and proffer solutions to challenges being encountered by the Agency in the effective discharge of its mandate.
The Managing Director, FERMA, Engr. Nuruddeen. A. Rafindadi, FNSE, in his welcome address at the FREMA Stakeholders forum said, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was established on 30th November 2002, by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (Establishment, etc.) Act 2002,an Act of the National Assembly.
The Agency was established for proper monitoring and maintenance of all Federal roads as stated in clause 4 of this enabling Act. It commenced operation in April 2003 saying that the establishment was the first official attempt to institutionalize some reform in national road management.
Rafindadi disclosed that FERMA maintains fully staffed offices in every State of the Federation, each led by a Federal Roads Maintenance Engineer. This, he said was to enable FERMA to deliver on its mandate of monitoring and maintaining Federal Roads nationwide.
He, however, said that funding; among other considerations are determinants in the effective productivity of the Agency in delivering on its mandate.
He added that he hoped that several feasible, but researchable solutions to the teething challenges of the Agency will be proffered during the stakeholders’ forum.
In his Keynote address, the Chairman, Governing Board of FERMA, Mr. Tunde Lemo, said over 80% off travels in Nigeria are carried out on roads, with about 90% of that being largely Federal inter-state roads.
Lemo said funding for Nigerian roads is less than 1.0% GDP (against a 3.0% GDP WB minimum spending threshold). He added that at the moment, funding for Nigerian roads has largely been from fiscal allocation through Appropriation Acts, with an increasingly shrinking national budget, and fierce competition for such funds between different sectors and sub-sectors of the national economy. The development and management of the road sector must explore alternative funding sources. He called for emergency action in the road sector by the government.
Corroborating the position of the Agency, the Chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA, Senator Gershom Bassey, and his counterpart at the House of Representative, Femi Bamisile, also frowned at the poor funding of FERMA.
Gershom said the Senate expressed serious concern that several thousands of lives had been lost to road accidents due to deplorable state of roads which also allows the kidnapper and armed robbers to operate freely on Nigerian highways.
He disclosed that he moved a motion on the floor of the Senate on the deplorable state of Federal highways that need urgent attention, and asking the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on Federal Roads across the nation.
He stated that the Senate Committee on FERMA, Petroleum Downstream, and National Planning have been mandated to investigate the non- remittance of the five percent (5%) user charge on the pump price of petrol and international vehicle transit charge accruing to FERMA. These, he said will serve as an alternative source of income that will help FERMA to discharge its duties more effectively and efficiently, thereby bringing relief to road users.
Maryam M. Sanusi (Mrs.)
Deputy Director (Information)