2021 budget: N38 billion not enough for maintenance of federal roads

• As Appropriation Committee submits report Thursday
Nigeria requires N400bn for road maintenance yearly- Senate

Nigeria needs N400billion for maintenance of the 35,000 kilometers of federal roads in the country, the Senate has said.

The Upper Chamber described the N38billion earmaked for road maintenance in the 2021 budget estimates as paltry compared to the serious road maintenance work needed across the country.

The sum of N38 billion earmarked in 2021 budget would not be enough for maintenance of 35,000 kilometres Federal Roads across the country, chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Gersome Bassey has said.

The senator who represents Cross Rivers South made the claim while speaking with newsmen shortly after presenting his committee report to the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

Senator Bassey further claimed that about N400 billion would be adequate for any serious maintenance work on existing federal roads.

He maintained that a country like Nigeria where road transportation is the most effective means for the movement of people, goods and services across the country must make an adequate budget for the roads in its yearly budget.

He said: “What the committee has just submitted to the appropriation committee for such exercise in 2021 fiscal year, is the N38 billion proposed for it by the executive, which cannot cover up to one-quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.

“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portions of the road.

“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.

“But the situation on the ground as far as the committees on FERMA at both chambers are concerned is very bad, requiring far more than N38 billion earmarked.

“If the roads are well maintained on yearly basis, reconstruction and rehabilitation which require bigger amounts of monies and years to carry out may not be necessary as frequently as they are now.”

Senator representing Kano North and Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin Barau, in a separate session with journalists assured that the joint Committees on Appropriation of both chambers of the National Assembly would scrutinize and harmonise the reports ahead of its passage.

His words: “The process of presentation of reports as regards the 2021 budget estimates for the various ministries,  departments and agencies by the various committees scrutinising them is over since all of them have submitted their reports.

“What remains now is for those of us in the Appropriation Committee to collate the reports in harmonisation with the House of Representatives for final consideration and passage by both chambers.

“Time table for that has already been drawn up and we shall work assiduously in keeping to it by submitting a harmonized report of the budgetary proposal to the Senate on December 3, 2020, for final consideration and passage latest by the following week.”