A bill to establish a Federal Roads Authority on Wednesday passed second reading at the Senate.
The bill seeks to repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002, the Federal Highways Act, 1971 and the Control of Advertisement Act 1986.
The Federal Roads Authority, when established, would have powers of ownership, regulation, management and development of federal road networks.
The bill was passed by the eight National Assembly but President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to it.
Gershom Bassey (PDP, Cross River South) who sponsored the bill, said Nigeria’s road sector should be “oversight[ed] by the ministry of works, managed by the federal road authority, delivered by the private sector, financed by both government subventions and revenues that are outside the national budgetary system.”
This is even as he decried the “tremendous pressure” on Nigerian roads because of other means of transportation like “waterways are underdeveloped and air transportation is too expensive for most Nigerians.”
The N870 billion meant for road maintenance has not been disbursed by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) as mandated by the law, he explained.
“The road development and maintenance in Nigeria seems uncoordinated hence the need to pass the bill to create a framework that allows other revenue streams to support government budgetary efforts on roads.
“It further seeks to manage the road networks so that they are safe and efficient in a view to meeting the socio-economic demands of the country.
“Facilitate the development of competitive market and promotion of enabling environments for private sector participation in the financing, maintenance and improvement of our roads in Nigeria.”
Mr Bassey said the Federal Road Authority in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps will advise the federal governments of effective efforts in curbing accidents, enforcement of road traffic regulations, reparation of damaged roads and promotion of road safety.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, noted “the government alone cannot fund the construction of roads across the country,” proposing that such should be done by Private- Public Partnership.
On the non-disbursement of funds by PPRA, he said the matter would be looked into separately but “cannot be swept under the carpet.”