By Andy Esiet, Calabar
Worried by the dilapidated nature of federal roads, the Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey has called for the urgent release of N850 billion owed the agency by the Federal Government.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Calabar yesterday, Bassey who is the Cross River National Assembly Caucus Chairman, said he had already moved a motion on the floor of the Senate to ensure that the Federal Government do the needful considering state of roads in the country.
He said that, “the sum of about N850Billion that is to accrue to FERMA by virtue of the 5% 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”.
Disturbed that the humongous debt owed FERMA by the Federal Government has hampered the effective discharge of FERMA’s primary responsibility of road maintenance and rehabilitation, Bassey who represents Cross River South Senatorial in the Senate, said the senate should resolved “as a matter of urgency declare a State of Emergency on the nation’s federal roads.
“Call on 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”.
He further stated that, “FERMA had a budgetary approval of just 20% of the funds the agency requires for the rehabilitation of about 35,000km of federal roads in 2022”.
He expressed concern 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 and it is quite disturbing.
Bassey said “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.
“That the increase in airfares will increase the pressure on the neglected and dilapidated Nigerian roads and will further worsen the state of the roads”