Senate seeks N300bn fund for intervention on bad roads

*As Fashola ordered contractors back to site

By Peter Usman://

Senate on Monday took a critical look at the deplorable state of roads across the country and urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, consider an Emergency Intervention Fund to the tune of N300billion for critical roads in Niger State linking economic corridors in the North and South. 

This was just as the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has directed remedial works on Lambata – Lapai – Bida road in Niger State to ease passage for commuters. 

According to the upper legislative chamber, consideration of the N300billion fund for emergency intervention on roads by the federal government would facilitate the infrastructure rehabilitation efforts of the present administration to support ease of business and economic recovery. 

The Senate also resolved that a National Legislative Roundtable on the State of Infrastructure for Economic Development be convoked, so as to bring all critical stakeholders in the transport and logistics industries together with a view to identifying urgent actions to address the current challenges. 

The resolutions were sequel to a motion on matter of urgent national importance brought to the floor during plenary by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North) and co-sponsored by six other lawmakers

Senator Abdullahi, while coming under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules noted with “disbelief and shock the very ugly scene playing out in Niger State since February 24 to September 2021 in which heavy trucks and tanker drivers blocked all entry and exit roads to protest the horrible state of federal roads passing through the state.”

He recalled that Niger State has the longest federal road network of 2,263km out of a total of 32,000km of national federal roads network. 

“The federal roads in Niger State stretched from the Abuja – Kaduna end to the Jebba – Mokwa – Makera – Tegina – Birnin Gwarimpa – Kaduna road to the Mokwa – New Bussa – Agwara – Kigera end which lies to the border with the republic of Benin. 

“Overall, the following are critical linkage roads within Niger state that provide logistical and vehicular movements between the North and South; especially the South West and North West Corridors. 

“Because of the massive land area of Niger State at 76,363km (representing about nine percent of the total land area of the country), all movements from North to South substantially traverse the State. 

“Indeed, the massive haulage of heavy industrial goods such as petroleum products, iron rods, cement, finished manufactured goods, machines and equipment, electronic materials and goods, building materials etc, in which trucks and tankers are overloaded pits great pressure on the roads and thus are seriously devastating to the state of the roads. 

“Cursory observation and reports indicate that many trucks and tankers are loaded with up to 90,000 tonnes of goods and all vehicles are consistently loaded well above their approved tonnage,” he stressed.

The lawmaker further lamented that “all the major link roads have totally failed with fatal accidents occurring on a daily basis with loss of lives, goods and vehicles.”

This development, he noted angered the truck and tanker drivers to begin the protest as the only available alternative route to exit the state is the Bida – Minna road which is currently undergoing construction. This road itself is a failed road with many portions that cannot withstand any heavy truck movement as it is. 

In his contribution, Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger East) accused the Minister of Works  and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola of neglecting the Niger State by not giving priority to the deplorable condition of roads in the state. 

He said: “Abuja – Makurdi road alone about N56 billion was allocated to it while only about N4 billion was allocated to critical roads in Niger State in the 2021 budget.  This is nothing but bias.”

The Senate, in other resolutions, urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the critical roads in Niger State linking economic corridors in the North and South.

The upper legislative chamber also enjoined the federal government to direct the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out emergency stabilization of the failed portions of Bida – Lapai – Lambatta road to ease the current suffering and rate of accidents and loss of goods and investments in the road.

In another motion, Senator Lekan Mustapha (APC Ogun East), called for urgent rehabilitation of all federal roads across the country, noting that the problem of bad road is not peculiar to a zone but cut across all zones.

The Senate in resolution to the motion urged the Federal Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Budget to release funds for emergency repair of all federal roads in the country.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has directed the contractor handling the construction of Lambata -Lapai – Bida Road to immediately embark on remedial works with boulders on the critical section of the road in order to bring relief to commuters.

Fashola, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mrs. Boade Akinola, noted that the inclement weather condition is adversely affecting the progress of work on the ongoing 124.8km thereby making the road unmotorable especially between Km 45 – 50 kms to articulated vehicles and trailers conveying petroleum products and others.

The minister directed the contractor to concentrate efforts on executing the worst Fadama section of the road Km 45- 50 where a lot of earthworks is required, in order to further alleviate the pains of commuters.

The statement disclosed that the ministry has contacted the leadership of the Union of Truck Owners and Operators to appeal to their drivers to vacate the road to allow the contractor access to the work site.

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