By Clement Nwabuko
Abuja – The Senate has called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, declare a State of Emergency on the nation’s federal roads.
The upper chamber, also urged the federal government to immediately make good its indebtedness to FERMA in order to enable the agency carry out its primary responsibility of rehabilitating federal roads, especially in the face of the astronomical increase in airfares.
These were resolutions reached on Tuesday by the Senate, following a point of order raised to draw its attention to the increase in airfare and the implication for Nigerian roads.
Rising under Order 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders, Senator Gershom Bassey, lamented that local airfares in Nigeria have risen by 63 per cent in response to a spike in the price of aviation fuel and attendant cost of operation.
According to him, the rise in airfare has pegged the minimum Economy Class ticket at around N80,000 for travellers buying a one-hour, one-way economy tickets.
He expressed worry that the increase in airfares would increase the pressure on the neglected and dilapidated Nigerian roads and further worsen their state.
The lawmaker noted that the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) had a budgetary approval of just 20 percent of the funds the agency requires for the rehabilitation of about 35,000km of federal roads in 2022.
Bassey observed that the sum of about N850 Billion naira that is to accrue to FERMA by virtue of the 5 percent User charge on pump price of petrol, diesel and international vehicle transit charges provided for in Section 14 of FERMA (Amendment) Act No.18 of 2007 is still being owed FERMA by the Federal Government.
“The humongous debt owed FERMA by the Federal Government has hampered the effective discharge of FERMA’s primary responsibility of road maintenance and rehabilitation”, he said.