In view of the deplorable condition of roads in the country, the Senate on Tuesday urged the federal government to ensure the rehabilitation and repair of interstate roads in the country this year.
This was sequel to a motion, “Urgent need to repair and rehabilitate interstate roads in Nigeria” by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) and cosponsored by Senators Ali Aidoko (PDP Kogi East and Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North).
Consequently, the upper legislative chamber mandated its Committee on Works to investigate the award and execution of the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha federal road which has been in a state of total disrepair.
It equally urged the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA to as an interim measure, begin immediate repair of bad portions of the road to make it more motorable pending when full rehabilitation works can commence.
In his lead debate on the motion, Senator Utazi informed that “Nigeria has the second longest network of roads in Africa, after South Africa with over 200, 000 kilometers of roads in the country”.
According to him, “roads are important for communications, social integration, economic development and defence access, as roads in Nigeria account for more than 95 per cent of the movement of people, goods and service”.
He added that “road as major infrastructure signposts the performance of a government in terms provision of facilities to improve the quality of life of the citizenry and it is one of the instruments to bolster economic growth because building roads has many associated activities that spin into other facets of life”.
Senator Utazi therefore lamented that decaying road infrastructure, with poor maintenance culture, is one of the major developmental challenges Nigeria is facing.
“The poor maintenance of roads has led to loss of precious man-hours, vehicular disrepair, high accident rates and high fatalities, ambushes by criminals and rapists, and other socio–economic frustrations”, he said.
He particularly saddened that the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha road, which traverses the three states of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra has been awarded to various contractors and huge funds released to them by the federal government without any appreciable job done on the road, with many sections impassable.
Senator Utazi, therefore, said injection of funds for the repair and rehabilitation of the road and others across the country either by FERMA or the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, would have a serious impact on its general development.
In his contribution, Senator Albert Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom North–East) lamented that there was nothing to show for the billions of Naira that have been sunk into various road projects in the country.
He described good roads as a major factor of production that would in turn not only improve the nation’s economy, but also the quality of lives of the people.
Also contributing, Senator Ali Aidoko (PDP Kogi East) pointed out that rehabilitation of the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha road would reduce pressure on both the Niger and 2nd Niger bridges for the safety of travellers as well as reducing their journeys from eight to three hours from Abuja to Onitsha.
On his own, Senator Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) affirmed that Nigeria might not achieve meaningful development without improved road infrastructure among the various parts of the country.
In his remarks, the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, promised that the upper legislative chamber would always be alive to its responsibility even as he urged the federal government to address the entire road infrastructure deficit in the country