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Nigeria needs N3trn to fix road infrastructure –COREN

The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), on Monday disclosed that Nigeria requires about N3 trillion to address the massive road infrastructure deficit in the country.

COREN President, Mr. Kasim Ali, stated this in Abuja at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Works.

The hearing was on the repeal of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002 and on Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2016 and National Roads Fund Establishment Bill.

Ali, who expressed support for the bills, said the current institutional framework for the management and funding of roads in Nigeria was outdated, inappropriate and needed to be reformed.

He stressed the need for sustainable funding mechanism of road projects in the country for improved autonomy in road management.

He said: “Establishment of the National Roads Fund will be repository for revenues accruing from road-user related charges for financing, development, rehabilitation and maintenance. Other activities related to the provision of national roads will promote an effective road management system in Nigeria.”

In his presentation, Minister of Works, Lands and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, lauded the bills’ initiative, while calling for consolidation of the five legislative frameworks regulating the road sectors into one, stressing that multiple laws and regulatory agencies would discourage investors.

He argued that the proposed legislation would help in improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria by eliminating various bottlenecks that could hamper private sector investment.

Fashola insisted on the need for upward review of the sanctions that will serve as deterrent to violators of regulations, adding that such sanction should be cheaper to comply with than to violate. He also emphasised the need for national consensus on policies and programmes.

He advised politicians to desist from making political statements that could scare investors, especially threats of revoking concession agreements if their political parties were voted into power.

Mr. Jonathan Juma, Acting Director General, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in his submission, said that $2 billion was required by the Federal Government to kick-start massive rehabilitation of roads,  adding that it would be across the country as a prelude to the introduction of user charges, including toll gates.

Juma called for injection of funds either through capital market, pension fund or international sources for road sector development, since a viable means of repayment had been identified.

He said this would ensure adequate funding of the road sector infrastructure, explaining that introduction of the user charges would generate 250,000 jobs annually in the construction and allied sector and 10,000 jobs in e-ticketing and IT support infrastructure.

In his remarks, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, chided Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for failing to remit the five per cent pump price levy to government.

The five per cent, according to him, is worth N771 billion, which should have accrued since 2007 to government coffers as provided by the FERMA Act.

“The sum of N536 billion accrued from Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and N174 billion from AGO were to be shared on the basis of 60 per cent to Federal Road Maintenance Agency, and 40 per cent to state governments for road maintenance.’’

Gaya, who expressed support for the passage of the bills, said the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway needed N150 billion to be completed while Abuja-Kano Road required N130 billion to be completed.

According to him, this warrants the need for private sector funding. “The fund which is expected to be sourced from capital market, inject the sum of N300 billion, is expected to be generated yearly from user charges through commuter contributions and other charges for road maintenance.”

On his part, Mr. Kyari Bukar, Chairman, Board of Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), who put the value of Nigerian road assets at N4.57 trillion, said that about N500 billion was spent yearly on operating cost.

He also decried that 10 hours man-hour loss estimated at N1.02 trillion was incurred yearly due to the poor conditions of Nigerian roads.

Earlier, Chairman of House Committee on Works, Toby Okechukwu, urged stakeholders to make informed inputs that would enable the House to come out with an implementable law, adding that such law would assist the nation in putting its road network in shape.

The Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, who declared the hearing open, said the bills were long overdue‎ and expressed the determination of the House in enacting laws that would stand the test of time.

Dogara, who was represented by the Deputy Leader of the House, Buba Jibrin, noted that a road fund was imperative in view of the deplorable nature of federal roads.

-Sun

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