Reps replace FERMA with new agency, seek funding

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    The House of Representatives has passed a bill scrapping the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and replaced it with a Federal Road Authority charged with the rehabilitation and maintenance of all federal roads across the country. The House also moved to establish a National Roads Fund to generate funds for the maintenance of all federal roads with a view to ensuring motorable roads across the country and take such burden away from government.

    The two bills which were initially passed by the last Assembly, but didn’t get the required presidential assent to make them operational, form part of the last legislative activities before the adjourning for the Christmas break. While the National Roads Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2019 was sponsored by Hon. Toby Okechuku, the Federal Road Authority establishment bill which repealed the FERMA establishment bill was sponsored by Okechukwu and Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai.

    The National Road Fund bill seeks to establish a National Roads Fund to provide predictable and sustainable source of funding for federal road maintenance in order to promote the sustainable development and management of the nation’s road network. It also seek to establish a repository of revenues accruing from road user related charges and other sources for financing, which shall be managed and administered for routine and periodic maintenance works on roads and related matters in Nigeria.

    The bill identifies sources of funds to include, fuel levy, axle load control charges, toll fees, international vehicle transit charges, inter-state mass transit user charge, and roads fund surcharge on any vehicle imported into Nigeria, lease, license or other fees, grants, and loans. On the other hand the Federal Roads Bill seeks to repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act (FERMA) Act, Federal Highways Act, and the Control of Advertisement on Federal Highways Act to establish an agency to govern and manage the nation’s federal roads network.

    The new agency will also facilitate private sector participation in the development, financing, maintenance, management, and improvement of Nigerian roads, including contracts for road concession and other forms of Public Private Partnership as well as set guidelines for the working of PPP contracts. The bill was reintroduced into the House as part of efforts to assist the government in finding lasting solution to the maintenance of federal roads across the country and will now be transmitted to the Senate for concurrence before it is sent to the president for assent.