08 November 2016, Abuja – The National Assembly on Monday accused the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency of consistently violating the Federal Road Maintenance Agency Act by defaulting in the remittance of over N711bn to FERMA for road maintenance across the country.
The FERMA Act, 2007 made provision for five per cent deduction from the pump price of petroleum products to be used for road maintenance.
But the Senate Committee on Works and the House of Representatives Committee on Works said that the PPPRA had never remitted the money, a development they described as a breach of the law.
The disclosure was made in Abuja at a public hearing by the joint committees on two road-related bills.
These are: ‘A bill for an Act to establish the National Roads and Maintenance of National Roads and other matters connected therewith’ and ‘A bill for an Act to establish a fund known as the Federal Road Fund and other matters connected therewith’.
According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya, accruals of the five per cent deduction from the sale of Premium Motor Spirit alone rose to N536bn in 2015.
For the deduction from the pump price of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel), the figure stood at N175bn in 2015, bringing the total to N711bn, he said.
Gaya noted that such breaches by the PPPRA had contributed to the funding challenges for road projects in the country amid diminishing annual budgetary allocations.
He explained that it was the reason the House of Representatives came up with the new bills in a bid to find alternative funding sources for roads.
“We have agreed in the Senate that we will concur with the decision of the House if they eventually pass these bills,” he added.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Works, Mr. Toby Okechukwu, told the session that the country’s roads would continue to be in a deplorable state if their repairs must rely solely on government funding.
He said, “These two bills are to address the road sector funding challenges, which have weighed heavily on Nigerians over the years. The future lies in Public-Private Partnership, which has become the model the world over. We cannot continue to fold our arms and pretend that the problem is not here with us.”
The new Road Fund Bill also makes provision for a five per cent user’s charge on the pump prices of petrol and diesel.
The sponsor of the bill, Mr. Nicholas Ossai, explained, “There will be axle load charge and other charges. They include toll charges. The fund will be used for the rehabilitation, maintenance and reconstruction of roads.
“FERMA and the Fferma will benefit from the fund. Five years ago, N900bn was required to fix our roads. Today, data suggest that we require as much as N2tn.”
The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, endorsed the bills, but suggested that the jurisdiction of all the tiers of government should be clearly spelt out.
“I am aware that local governments have the largest number of roads in Nigeria. No percentage of the revenue from the fund has been spelt out by the bills to go to this level of government,” he stated.
Fashola also said much as the PPP was the way to go, Nigerians should reach a “consensus to overcome the social and political problems of privatising roads and concessions.”
The minister said the political problem had to do with a situation where politicians would revoke a concession agreement just because they did not like it.
“Politicians threaten to cancel concessions if they come into office. That is not good for investment. The social problem is how you carry Nigerians along to be part of the programme,” he added.
- – Punch