Governors seek permission to take over federal roads

Governors seek permission to take over federal roads

Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:12 pm


Governors at NEC meeting on Thursday

The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday urged the Federal Government to release federal roads to states to fix using investors and placing tolls on them.

The request followed the concerns of the council members about the failure of many Nigerian roads, some in less than six months of repair.

Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi, who said this while briefing State House correspondents, noted that the states observed that over-loading was the major cause of the collapse of the roads.

“The other issue was on roads and council was very highly concerned about the failure of our roads; even after fixing the roads they would collapse within six months.

“We identified that over loading is one of the major factors because in road design you take an axial load and most of the time you do not take an axial load of more than 35 tons.

“We noticed that a lot of our trucks which carry mostly fuel carry 45 tons, 60 tons and 70 tons and that is a major concern to state governors,’’ he said.

According to Umahi, NEC asked the Minister of Power, Works and Housing to come up with strategies to regulate the weight of any truck plying the roads, which has been fingered as the major causes of the road collapse.

The governors solicited the Federal Government to release the roads to states to fix using investors and placing tolls on them.

Umahi said that the repair of federal roads by states would be more effective because there would not be enough budget of the federal that would be able to handle all the federal roads.

“If some of these roads are given out to state governments and they maintain a handful of it; then the budgeted funds in the annual budgets given to states will help.

“We came to agreement that we are going to write Mr President and then proffer strategies by which we can participate in this kind of programme.

“We believe strongly that it is going to enhance our road situation,’’ he said.

Umahi said that the issue of states begging the federal government to allow them to fix the roads was lingering, adding that he wrote several letters when he was inaugurated but luckily received a reply to one from Buhari which asked him to fix the roads and toll them.

“That is where we are going; we are not saying that we have all the money to do that but investors are knocking on our doors and they can participate in fixing the roads and tolling them.

“It will be a big relief not only to the Federal Government but also to the state and everyone.’’

The governor added that there was a new technology of road construction whereby cement was used in place of asphalt for longevity.

He said that the technology was being used in Ebonyi and he had spoken with a major cement manufacturer, Dangote group, having experimented it in Ogun state, where he constructed 28 km of concrete road.

“As a Civil Engineer, I believe strongly that a lot of our terrain should go in the way of concrete, and that is what we are doing in my state where 95 per cent of all roads are being constructed in concrete.

“It is about five per cent more expensive than asphalt; but before me (previous administration) a federal roads that was constructed by one of the giants fell within six months.

“When I was confronted with the issue of loan from ADB to fix 200km of roads I said to them that if we are not using concrete I am not taking the loan because at the time of repaying the loan the roads would have all gone if done with asphalt.

“So my children will be in trouble because people will be saying this is what your father did and nobody will believe the road was constructed.

“So we are becoming very conscious of leaving legacies for our children so that nobody will trouble them,’’ the governor said.

The governor hinted that many African countries and some Nigerian states with unstable soil had keyed into the concrete road technology.

He urged the Federal Government to also adopt the technology on road construction.

On the disturbances in some states, the governor said that the governors resolved to be moving round the geo-political zones together to preach peace and let the citizens to know that they are brothers and sisters.

“That matter is very important and we will discuss it at our next meeting; but so far so good,’’ he said.

The governor also said that the Finance Minister presented the balance of accounts in the reserve noting that stabilisation account had a balance of N4.34 billion; Development of Natural Resouce Account had N84.69 billion and Excess Crude Account with $2.309 billion.

Gov. Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara corroborated the request on roads, saying that even though the states were faced with meeting with recurrent expenditure challenges currently due to revenue drops the case for federal roads construction emerged from public-private partnership angle.

According to him, if states partner the prospective investors on roads they will be able to put the roads into good conditions for usage but also recoup their investments in due course.

He stressed the need to take advantage of the partnership to put a lot of roads into good shape to support the much needed infrastructure for economic development.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, National Export Promotion Council, (NEPC), Mr Segun Awolowo, said that three agencies, the NEPZA, NEXIM and NEPC made presentations on the non-oil export in Nigeria.

He said NEPZA harped on the need to have more economic zones in the country to support the intention of the Federal Government to adopt industrial zones as a fast track model for building industries.

He said the Managing Director of NEXIM Bank spoke about the need to recapitalize the bank with a dedicated funding of N5 billion minimum for state to enable them to develop export initiatives.

He said NEPC presented the zero oil plan, which led to the formation of the National Export Promotion Council to help states to develop export initiatives.(NAN)

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