A bill seeking to establish the National Roads Fund, on Wednesday passed second reading on the floor of the Nigerian Senate.
The purpose of the bill is for financing, maintenance and rehabilitation of all Nigerian roads.
The proposed roads fund involves the concept of commercialisation to minimize any adverse impact on the national budget, strengthening of financial discipline to ensure better value for money, and preparing an explicit long term financing plan to maintain all roads in Nigeria.
According to the bill, which was read the first time in the Senate chamber on Tuesday March 15, road fund revenues consist primarily of a percentage charge from the existing fuel pump price, payable by motorists plying the roads.
Another revenue source for the fund is the supplementary heavy vehicle fee, and fines for overloading, a tariff the bill suggests should be collected under a contractual agreement to be operated by government agencies.
Senator Kabiru Gaya, who sponsored the bill, told Voice of Nigeria that the proposed National Roads Fund is not a duplication of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
“The essence of this bill is to utilize a provision that we had on the existing FERMA Act, which in 2007 we did that amendment. We said, 5% of existing pump price not addition to the pump price, that 5% we supposed to be collecting since 2007 but because FERMA that supposed to collect the money does not have the powers to give money to the states of the federation but this road fund agency will now collect this money and give 40% by law, to the federal government so that they can now work on those roads’ maintenance.
Then the remaining 60%, we now arrange with the states based on their list of roads and their maintenance costs to avoid duplication, and then this road funding agency will then be financing these road projects both at the Federal, states, and local government levels.
All that the National Assembly would be doing is to take care of the 40% under the Federal government appropriation for roads.”
Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki who presided over Wednesday’s plenary, referred the Bill to the committee on works for further legislative action.
The committee has four weeks to execute the assignment which includes a public hearing where Nigerians are expected to make their input into the bill.
Meanwhile, a team of forensic auditors is in Nigeria to assist the Senate in conducting its ongoing investigation into the alleged fraudulent repatriation of $13.92 billion from Nigeria by one of the mobile telecommunications giants, MTN and some Nigerians.
Chairman of the Senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim disclosed this to National Assembly correspondents ahead of Thursday’s commencement of the investigative hearing organized by the committee.
Senator Ibrahim said the foreign auditors who arrived Nigeria on Monday, are working in collaboration with some Nigerian auditors who had begun the preliminary auditing of the documents spanning ten years (2006-2016).
He said that all the parties involved in the case have been told to appear before the senate committee on Thursday October 20, to defend their positions with regard to the allegations.