By Grace Alegba
Lagos, Oct. 4, 2020 The Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transportation Engineers (NIHTE) on Sunday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Federal Highway Authority Bill and the Road Board Bill into law to address Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.
NIHTE National Chairman, Mr Oludayo Oluyemi, told newsmen on telephone that the lack of regulation had encouraged about 50 years of infrastructure decay and huge deficit.
Oluyemi said that all previous government efforts had failed to bridge the infrastructure gap and future ones may fail except government summoned the courage to sign the bills which will boost funding and promote good maintenance culture.
He listed major roads in terrible condition making inter and intra states accessibility and connectivity difficult for road users.
He commended the current administration for making efforts to complete projects inherited from the previous regimes while initiating new ones but stressed the need for improvement.
He listed the Warri/Itape rail lines, and the Kaduna-Abuja rail lines as some major railway projects completed recently but lamented that the government was constrained by funding which the bills will address.
He said although the Buhari government had tried various alternative sources of funding, including Sukuk and Private Sector Participation initiatives, those measures may not solve the nation’s infrastructure problems until the bills were passed.
“When you go onto the road across the country, hardly can you get good roads. There is no geopolitical zone that you can tell has 50 per cent of the roads motorable. If you go to the South East, South West, and other zones it is the same problem.
“Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ikorodu-Sagamu, Ikorodu-Ijebu-Ode, Owerri to Aba Road are all in terrible mess.
“Most of the road projects awarded to contractors are being abandoned because the payment certificates are not being honored.
“At the level of the Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transport Engineers with the Nigerian Society of Engineers, we have been clamoring for the President to sign the Federal Highway Authority Bill and the Road Board Bill.
“We have been saying this for several years, the cry has been on for not less than 50 years but unfortunately the powers that be are not interested in that because the problem we have in the road sector today has been majorly maintenance of our roads,” he said.
He said that poor maintenance culture and abuse of the road infrastructure was responsible for rapid road degeneration in Nigeria, adding that, trucks carry excessive axle load unchecked, thereby impacting roads negatively.
“I don’t think we are doing well but the government is trying its best to get all these roads done but I can tell that the major challenge has been finance.
“Thank God we now have funding coming through Sukuk and NSIA but those fundings are infinitesimal when you look at the total transportation needs of the country.
“The only way out to make the sector better is for the President to sign the Road Board Bill and the Federal Highways Authority Bill because through the road board some funding can be coming for maintaining all these roads.
“We have listed all these funding mechanisms but the government does not have the political will to implement all these.
“Recently they are talking of implementing PPP models but we are waiting for the implementation and we want to see within two three years, how effective this PPP model will be,” he said.