The Senate has directed its committees on Petroleum Downstream and National Planning to investigate, within two weeks, why the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) failed to remit five per cent commission it charged on every litre of fuel to FERMA for the rehabilitation of federal roads across the country.
The resolution was sequel to a motion at Tuesday’s plenary by Senator Gershom Bassey (PDP-Cross River) on ‘The Deplorable State of Nigeria’s Federal Roads’.
Moving the motion, Bassey said that the deplorable state of the federal roads had become a national shame and an unnecessary embarrassment as there was hardly any part of the country that could boast of good federal roads.
He said that the Senate was concerned that scores of innocent people were kidnapped by bandits, robbed, mutilated and killed daily in avoidable accidents on account of bad federal roads.
“The nation’s economy suffers incalculable losses resulting from poor productivity as immeasurable man-hours is lost in deplorable federal roads.
“Nigerian federal roads have continually failed to meet the international standards that provides for a four lane divided road featuring landscaped islands and separated bike and pedestrian trails on both sides of the roadway.”
The lawmaker further said that federal highways in the country required the sum of N215 billion to revamp 3, 500 kilometres of federal roads every year for eight to 10 years for a total rehabilitation of existing federal highways.
“Section 14(1)(h) of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (Amendment Act, 2007) provides that 5 per cent user charge pump price of petrol, diesel and which 40 per cent will accrue to FERMA.
” And 60 per cent be utilised by the established State Roads Maintenance Agencies.
“The Senate is disturbed that right from 2007, Section 14(1)(h) and 14(1)(I) of the FERMA (Amendment) Act has been observed in breach by the PPRA and the Minister of Transportation thereby depriving FERMA of huge revenue for road maintenance.
” The Senate is further disturbed that the 5 per cent user charge pump price is already provided for in the current pump price of petrol and diesel but PPRA has refused to remit the funds to FERMA for road maintenance as stipulated by law.”
Bassey, however, said that PPRA’s remittance of the 5 per cent user charge pump price to FERMA would help ameliorate the deplorable state of federal roads.
Contributing, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) who seconded the motion said that urgent attention was needed to fix the deplorable federal roads.
“This is especially within this budget cycle that we have before us here that something drastic needs to be done.
“PPRA should release the fund totally provided for FERMA to do its job.
“The raining season is just gradually coming to an end and this is the opportunity for FERMA to go and start rehabilitating our roads so that Nigerians can move freely.
“This is a very important motion moved at the most appropriate time to get the desired attention.
“And I’m standing here lending my support and full weight to get that being done knowing that those of us from the south east are the major complainants of the bad roads in this country and we hope that we get the desired attention from FERMA if this motion scales through,” Utazi said.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that “I believe that every part of this country suffers from this problem of deplorable state of our roads.
“So, I believe that our committees, given this instruction, will swing into action and attend to the issue associated with this motion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate adjourned plenary for two weeks to engage Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in defence of their 2020 Budget.
Lawan announced the adjournment during Tuesday’s plenary.
Lawan said that the adjournment was to engage Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the purpose of budget defence of the Appropriation Bill 2020.
The Senate President had on October 8, urged MDAs to appear before Committees of the Senate in October to defend their 2020 budget.
According to Lawan, the exercise is supposed to last for two weeks.
“And like we said before, for the sake of emphasis, all MDAs should take this opportunity to come forward to the various committees in the National Assembly to defend their budget within the two weeks.
“This is the only window available. And for our committees, we wish you the best of outing.
“We will be coming to the National Assembly those of us who are not members of the committees to give the moral support that is required,” he said.