Nigeria’s Senate has said the country would require N400 billion for the maintenance of 35,000 kilometers of federal roads across the country. The upper house also described the N38 billion earmarked for road maintenance in the 2021 budget estimates as paltry compared to the serious maintenance required on the nation’s federal roads. It is no longer news that most federal roads in the country have failed due to lack of maintenance, which has made travelling by road across Nigeria a harrowing experience.
Following this gaping challenge, the National Assembly Joint Committee on Appropriation said it was working hard to submit a harmonised report on the N13.08trillion 2021 budget proposal on December 3. The Chairman of Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Gershom Bassey, decried the poor budgetary allocation for road maintenance in the 2021 Appropriation Bill while addressing reporters at the weekend.
The senator explained that road maintenance in Nigeria, where road transportation is mostly used for the movement of people, goods and services across the country, could only be effectively carried out with about N400 billion each year. He added: “What the committee has just submitted to the Appropriation Committee for road maintenance in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38 billion proposed for it by the Executive, which cannot cover up to one-quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately, despite having the power of Appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portions of the road. Doing that without proposal to that effect from the Executive may lead to project insertion or padding, as often alleged in the media. “But the situation on ground, as far as the Committee on FERMA in both chambers are concerned, is very bad. It requires far more than the N38 billion earmarked. “If the roads are well maintained on yearly basis, reconstruction and rehabilitation, which require bigger amounts of money and years to carry out, may not be necessary as frequently as they are now.”