By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate has expressed concern over the deplorable state of interstate roads across the country, tasking the federal government to take immediate action towards ensuring the rehabilitation and repair of the roads this year before rainy season.
This followed a motion titled, “Urgent need to repair and rehabilitate interstate roads in Nigeria” by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) and Senators Ali Aidoko (PDP Kogi East and Stell Oduah (PDP Anambra North).
To this end, the Senate directed its Committee on Works to investigate the award and execution of the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha federal road which it said has been in a state of total disrepair.
The Red Chamber also urged the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to, in the interim, begin immediate repair of bad portions of the road to make it more motorable pending full rehabilitation works.
In his lead debate on the motion, Utazi said “Nigeria has the second longest network of roads in Africa, after South Africa with over 200, 000 kilometers of roads in the country”.
He observed that “road as major infrastructure signposts the performance of a government in terms provision of facilities to improve the quality of life of the citizenry.
He particularly lamented that the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha road, which traverses the three states of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra has been awarded to various contractors and huge funds released to them by the federal government without any appreciable job done on the road, with many sections impassable.
In his contribution, Senator Albert Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom North–East) lamented that there was nothing to show for the billions of Naira that have been sunk into various road projects in the country.
He described good roads as a major factor of production that would in turn not only improve the nation’s economy, but also the quality of lives of the people.
Also contributing, Senator Ali Aidoko (PDP Kogi East) argued that rehabilitation of the Idah–Odolu–Nsukka–Adani–Otuocha–Onitsha road would reduce pressure on both the Niger and 2nd Niger bridge, and cut the journeys from eight to three hours from Abuja to Onitsha.
Similarly, Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) expressed fear that Nigeria might not achieve meaningful development without improved road infrastructure across the various parts of the country.
In his remarks, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, promised that the upper legislative chamber would always be alive to its responsibility, asking the federal government to address the entire road infrastructure deficit in the country.