By Nuel Suji
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to undertake immediate rehabilitation and dualisation of major highways and interstate roads across the country.
This followed a motion by Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West) and co-sponsored by 90 others.
The senate also urge the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently explore additional ways to fund federal road rehabilitation projects in the country.
It further directed its Ad-hoc Committee on Works to embark on audit of all road projects in Nigeria with a view to producing raw data for further necessary legislative action.
It said there was a need to finding lasting solution to road problems in the country in view of the attendant negative impact on trade and commerce.
It decried that in spite of several trillions of naira spent on road re-construction and rehabilitation in the country since return of democracy there was minimal or no impact.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the poor state of the roads in the country had contributed negatively to the development of the economy.
He lamented the fact that roads in smaller countries in the region were in better shape than roads in Nigeria.
According to him, there is a need for concerted effort to ensure that factors responsible for poor condition of roads in the country are tackled.
“For Nigeria to develop we must begin to look at why we find ourselves in this situation.
“We must also look at the contribution of private sector as well as the quality of contractors who handle road construction and rehabilitation,’’ he said.
Supporting the motion, Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi North) said there was no better time to reconstruct all federal roads in the country, than now that Nigeria was working towards diversification of the economy.
He said federal roads in the South East in particular, had been in bad shape since the civil war, in spite of the contribution of those from the region to the growth of the economy.
“According to him, “the roads in the South East, particularly in Ebonyi State are death traps.
“Ebonyi State is one of the hubs of agriculture but the roads are in bad shape and that has made movement of goods and services to other parts of the country very difficult.’’
On her part, Deputy Minority Whip, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, said with the paucity of funds in the country, relevant stakeholders ought to find means of raising funds to rehabilitate existing roads.
She said “we need to ask the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Works to liaise with the Ministry of Works to find lasting solution to funding of road projects.
Also, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nassarawa West) said the lifespan of vehicles had reduced drastically due to poor condition of the roads in the country.
He also lamented increasing traffic congestion on the Mararaba-Nyanaya-Keffi road that linked about 15 states.
He called on the Federal Ministry of Works to create additional lanes on the road to ease traffic and to reduce pressure on the road.
“I want to let the Senate know that the road that leads from AYA in Asokoro, Abuja to Masaka in Nassarawa State ordinarily takes few minutes.
“With the congestion, however, it takes about three hours or more for commuters to get to their destinations depending on the time of the day.
“There is need for something urgent to be done in this regard because of the negative effect on the economy.
Sen. Abdulraham Abubakar (APC- Kogi East) said to ensure adequate funding of road projects in view of the paucity of funds, toll gates should be re-introduced.
He said “re-introduction of toll gates on the roads is important.
“This is because the budget given to FERMA and Ministry of Works is not adequate. The revenue from the toll gates would go a long way in maintaining federal roads.’’
He also called on the federal government to pay adequate attention to re-construction and maintenance of railroads to reduce pressure on the roads.