By Perpetua Onuegbu
President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged Nigerians to stop abusing the highways and called for appropriate maintenance culture in the country.
Buhari, made this call in Abuja at the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA’s) 20th Anniversary on Thursday
According to him, roads are depreciating assets, hence the need to preserve and put them to proper use.
The President was represented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola.
“Let us understand that no matter how much money we give to FERMA, it doesn’t make sense to destroy what we give to them because we are getting more money to repair roads.
“That is not how a problem should be solved. The first thing is preservation and proper use of the road.
“For those who burn tyres on the road, those who repair cars on the shoulders of the road, and discharge lubricant, every time you discharge diesel on the road, you have already taken away part of the useful life of that asset,” he said.
He said the reason maintenance was necessary was because roads were depreciating assets, and called on the engineers to educate Nigerians on how roads should be properly maintained.
“So our engineers have a lot of work to do by teaching people how roads are built, how roads need to be looked after. And this must not be done in technical language, they must go to the street level to begin to educate Nigerians.
“It is when people understand the dos and don’ts of roads and that perhaps, is the biggest step in maintenance.
“Roads are depreciating assets, from the day when we start to drive on them, the life and asset value of that road begins to go down, and therefore you are already generating a maintenance need.
“The experts will tell you that after design and construction alone, which employs less than 40 per cent of the workforce, it is maintenance and operation that creates the longest-lasting jobs and employs the largest number of people.
“This is why President Buhari has appropriately signed Executive Order 11, the maintenance order. Saying to all of us that maintenance is not a culture. It is an economy and it is one that we must appropriately watch because the rewards are very bountiful and very diverse,” he said.
Buhari said road is a life-impacting asset and a total economic package. Many people’s lives and livelihoods depend upon it. There’s a vast supply chain behind the road network.
He assured that his administration would do whatever was needful to preserve the Nigerian roads.
Earlier in his remarks, FERMA’s Managing Director, Mr Nuruddeen Rafindadi said the agency needed N300 billion annually to work optimally.
He said this while presenting a paper titled: “FERMA @20 the Journey so far, challenges and way forward”, disclosed that the agency required N300 billion annually to maintain thousands of Nigeria Federal Highway Networks (FHN).
Rafindadi said despite maintenance backlogs, FERMA in 2021/2022 maintained 7,926.30 kilometers of roads across the country.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for his continuous support to the agency and the Ministry of Works and Housing in extension.
On the challenges, Rafindadi added that ” current budgetary appropriation released was far less than the required target.He called for an urgent need for alternative funding.
Rafindadi said FERMA activities are in line with the global target, which is “to sustain surveillance, accelerate repairs/recovery of failed roads section, safeguard good sections through preventive measure”.
In his remarks, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu warned that maintenance of the country’s infrastructure would continue to be challenged, “so long as we do not appreciate the investment that has been made.
“I think we need to do more in educating the public on the need to know our road infrastructure appropriately.
“Issues of road trucks carrying flammable materials and lots of other recklessness are sometimes the major causes of damage on our road. All sorts of careless and irresponsible behavior by drivers on the road must be stopped.”
Highlights of the event include launching of the FERMA @20 Special Edition book and the Short call code.
The Shortcode 7727 is to enable Nigerians to call and lodge complaints on the state of roads around them.
FERMA now has a call center for Nigerians to report or complain in local languages about the state of the roads for prompt action.
The agency encouraged Nigerians to use the shortcode 7727 to speed up maintenance and ensure that roads are in better conditions.(NAN)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola