The Minister of Works, Mike Onolomemen on Monday said over N500 billion would be required annually for the next four years to repair the bad roads in Nigeria insisting that the average budget of N100 billion for this project is grossly inadequate.
Mr Onolomemen said this at a public hearing on measures to address the near collapse of roads across the country, and a bill to provide for the maintenance of public infrastructure.
The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Works.
The bill seeks to impose a penalty on the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies in case of failure to ensure regular maintenance of public infrastructure.
The minister said that the annual budgetary allocations to road projects is inadequate.
He said the delay in the release of fund for road projects had also led to delays and in some cases complete abandonment of road projects across the country.
The minister noted that out of the N130 billion budgeted for highway projects in 2011, only N88.7 billion was released, while only N110 billion was released from the N143 billion budgeted in 2012.
Mr Onolomemen said that the average budget of N100 billion for road development is grossly inadequate for the nation’s 35, 000 kilometre of federal road network.
The minister, therefore, suggested for alternative funding for the maintenance of the country’s highways.
The minister said that a bill for the establishment of Road Fund and Federal Roads Authority would soon be presented to the National Assembly.
“There has to be a special fund to take care of the deplorable roads in Nigeria,’’ he said, adding that with appropriate funding, all roads listed by the Federal Government would be completed in 2015.
In a remark, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, also stressed the need for a legal framework to stop the abuse of roads in the country.
Mr Tambuwal, who was represented by the Minority Whip, Samson Osagie, urged traffic officials to discharge their responsibilities properly to minimise road accidents.
He said a study has shown that the country loses N80 billion annually to road accidents.
The Chairman of the committee, Ogbuefi Ozomgabchi, called for appropriate legal and institutional framework for road infrastructure.
Mr. Ozomgabchi noted that fixing the country’s ailing road network would require new funding options through the private sector.
He said between 1999 and 2012, the National Assembly appropriated N1 trillion to the road sector, but in spite of the allocation, only 35 per cent of the federal road network was paved.
The situation he noted, had led to 1,936 accidents between January and December this year based on figures released by the Federal Road Safety Commission.