A special attention by government to roads construction and maintenance in the country by establishing a National Road Fund (NRF) is the best panacea for resolving the current deplorable state of Nigerian roads, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has said.
Speaking today in Abuja on the society’s forthcoming annual conference, NSE President, Olumuyiwa Ajibola, blamed governments at all levels for abdicated their responsibility of constructing new roads and rehabilitating existing ones across the country.
“The state of transportation infrastructure in the country now does not positively point in the direction of our plans to be one of the top 20 economies in the world under our Vision 20-2020. The present condition of the network of roads in the country is totally unacceptable, and the solution does not lie in throwing money at the problem, but establishing very strong institutional framework to help correct the problems associated with the manner funds are allocated for road projects in the budget are released resulting in delays and abandonment of such projects,” Mr Ajibola said.
He pointed out that of the over 194,200 kilometres of roads in the country, about 34,120 kilometres belong to the Federal Government, while 30,500 kilometres are for the state governments, adding that the remaining 129,580 kilometres are Local Government and rural roads, the greater part of which remain dilapidated.
The way out of the problem of bad roads and lack of maintenance of Federal Government roads, the NSE president said, is for government to establish a National Road Fund (NRF) to undertake the design, construction and maintenance of roads, while a Federal Road Authority (FRA) undertakes the total management of the country’s roads.
The NRF, he advised, should be managed by a statutory multi-sectoral board, comprising representatives from the public and private sectors that would be charged with the responsibility of appropriating funds for roads development based on priority and global best practices.
Under the arrangement, Mr Ajibola said the FRA would be made to take over the functions of the highway division of the Federal Ministry of Works as the implementation agency, separate from policy making and enforcement of standards.
At the moment, the NSE president said his society is liaising with the Ministry of Works to sponsor a bill towards the establishment of the FRA and NRF in the country.
On high cost of contracts in the country, he advocated that steps be taken towards institutionalizing the Nigerian content policy in the country’s construction industry through the promotion of indigenous construction capacity by involving local professionals in the initiation and implementation of government policies.
He blamed the problem besetting the construction industry on inadequate planning, feasibility studies and designs, flawed tendering and contract award processes contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, use of foreign contractors, unstable government policies, corruption and insecurity.
On its part, he said, the NSE is currently working on a standard framework that would stipulate how much the construction of a kilometer of road should cost in various parts of the country with a view to making recommendations to government.