Nigeria is set to join the rest of the world in having a National Roads Authority.
Minister of Works, Arc Mike Onolememen, dropped the hint yesterday at the 33rd session of Nigerian Newsworld Magazine /Nigerian Pilot Newspapers Leadership Forum in Abuja. He came with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, the MD/CEO, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, Directors and top management staff of the Ministry.
The minister said that the Federal Government had made meaningful progress in its plan to establish a National Road Authority to meet global best practice in the management of the country’s highways.
When established, the agency, will among other things, take over the management of the right-of-way of the over 35,000 kilometres federal roads across the country to check their abuse and destruction by individuals, organisations and even state governments, where they are located.
The proposed body would also manage activities on the right-of-way to generate revenue for the Federal Government to ease the burden of the funding road maintenance in the country.
According to him, “All over the world, this is what is obtainable. Just try and travel to Ghana, Togo, India, Europe, America and other parts of the world, you will see that each of these countries has a road authority.
He said that attempts were made by the country to establish the agency responsible for road construction and maintenance by the past governments but it failed.
Onolememen disclosed that during the administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha in 1996, a conference was held in Abuja where it was agreed that African nations should carry out reforms in road management of their countries with a template which seek to establish road authority and a road funding agency for sustainable road maintenance. However, while other African countries went ahead and established road funds and became better beneficiaries of international funds for road development, Nigeria is yet to do so.
He also said that a memo was sent to Federal Executive Council between 1999 and 2002, where it was recommended that a road authority should be approved by the council but the Executive Council rather created the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA.
The minister told the audience that lack of road authority has been responsible for poor response to road development in the country, stressing that when established, the road authority would keep issue of road maintenance under one roof and be in charge of road rehabilitation and project development.
Architect Onolememen said that the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is determined to establish it with a view to achieving its transformation agenda.
“Once we have a federal road authority, even the Federal Ministry of Works will no longer be in a position to be designing and awarding contracts; it becomes the responsibility of the road authority because that is the professional way of doing it,” he said.
The minister said the agency, when put in place, would serve as a decision support system to create a database on road condition, road traffic and right-of way-on the highways. “This will enable the ministry to plan, budget and prioritise its projects for improved performance, monitoring and value for money,” he said.
Reviewing the performance of his ministry in 2013, Onolememen said that 184 roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country were constructed. He, however, expressed concern that the ministry had suspended work in some parts of the North-East, particularly in Borno State due to security challenges.
“It is an unfortunate development; but once the security situation improves in that part of the country, we would be able to resume construction activities in the area,” he said.
On some of the ongoing arterial road contracts in the country, the minister said that most of them were inherited by President Jonathan’s administration from past governments and that work is still ongoing.
He said: “We have made progress with the rehabilitation, construction and expansion of key arterial projects, including but not limited to the following: dualisation of Abuja- Lokoja road in FCT, Kogi and Edo states, dualization of Kano-Maiduguri road in Kano, Jigawa, Bauch, Yobe and Borno states”.
He also listed roads others to include dualisation of Suleija-Minna Road in Niger state, reconstruction of Onitsha-Enugu-Port Harcourt High way in Anambara, Enugu, Abia and Rivers states; reconstruction of Benin-Ore-Shagamu Expressway in Edo, Ondo and Ogun states; reconstruction of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Express way in Lagos Ogun and Oyo states; construction of Loko-Oweto bridge over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue states as ongoing projects.
Other road projects under construction according to the Minister, includes: construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge in Onitsha/Asaba in Anambra and Delta states, reconstruction of Mokwa-Bida Road in Niger state, reconstruction of Akure- Ilesha Road in Ondo/Osun state, reconstruction of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Brinin Yauri-Kotongora-Makera Road in Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states and reconstruction of Vandeikya-Obidu Road in Benue and Cross River states, among others.
Source: Nigerian Pilot