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Pay N1 trillion owed to FERMA, Senator Bassey Tells FG

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey, has called on the Federal Government to clear the N1 trillion owed to the agency as backlog saying the agency needs about N300 billion yearly to fix roads.

Bassey, who represents Cross River South in the Senate, said this in a statement at the weekend to some newsmen in Calabar.

He noted that the matter had come up in the Senate, explaining, “We have proffered so many solutions to the executive on road maintenance in the short, medium and long terms.

“Some of those issues are on the President’s table for accent, issues like the Federal Road Authority, which are sustainable solutions to road problems, and I hope that he would give accent to those bills that are on his table, especially at a time when we are having serious problems with our roads as attested to by many of my colleagues.

“We had done an investigation where we agreed that FERMA would require a minimum of N300 billion every year just to maintain our roads and there was a backlog of over N1 trillion that had not been paid on the law that was passed in the senate in 2009 on FERMA.

“The budget for FERMA has been slashed to N18 billion from the N45 billion it was last year. This is an issue of prioritization. We need to maintain the road infrastructure that we have.

“My colleague had talked about rehabilitation but that is very different from maintenance, we need to maintain the road infrastructure we have and the maintenance contracts are for six months typically and this goes straight to the heart of the matter”.

Bassey who is also the Cross River Caucus Chairman in the National Assembly, further stated, “I think we need to do something about it and prioritize our roads, especially when it is probably the only means of moving goods, services and people from one point to another.

“Airfares are too high and we don’t have inland waterways, our only way of moving goods, people and services from one point to another is by road, therefore we must prioritize road maintenance and I want the senate to urge the President to take another look at the budget for FERMA because we need money to maintain our roads.’

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