By Ahmed Ajikob
Following the deplorable condition of infrastructure in the country, the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) has called for decentralisation of federal roads.
Addressing a media briefing as part of activities heralding this year’s NSE Week in Ilorin at the weekend, the NSE Chairman, Engr Joseph Sunday Adebayo, said the Federal Government could adopt zoning on maintenance of highways by appointing qualified contractors if it was becoming suspicious of states in terms of judicious utilisation of funds.
This came against the backdrop of public outcry on the terrible condition of Ilorin/Lokoja and Ilorin/Jebba/Mokwa highways.
Observing that there are major roads that required emergency solution, the NSE chairman urged the FG to hand over maintenance and reconstruction of the highways through devolution of powers.
Adebayo, who specifically made reference to Ilorin/Lokoja highway, said only a section of the road in Ekiti was in perfect condition for motorists and other road users.
The NSE boss regretted that money earmarked for contingency situations in the budget had been removed; pointing out that such money is usually deployed to attend to pressing matters on infrastructural development.
“The Federal Government, for now, I don’t think they are really up to the task, because there are places that really need emergency solution, which would cost little before the total reconstruction.
“Like in the National Assembly, they have their own way of doing things; they are not helping the matter, because in the budget, we all know contingencies were removed as if they don’t understand what contingencies are meant for.
“The contingencies are made to attend to emergency cases like the Mokwa/Jebba bridge collapse. If there is no contingency in the previous budget, there is no way they will be able to attend to it.
“There is agitation for devolution of power. The only thing I can plead is that, I realised that the road… Nigeria is too big with the level of our development for somebody to sit in Abuja and says he is controlling or will be managing the road. I think the government should think in line of ceding all these roads, may be regionally or in terms of zone to people, and give the government of that state the separate account that they can access money to do emergency case in their domain. If you are travelling to Abuja, the only area that you can travel very well is Ekiti State.
“In fact, I was travelling penultimate week and on getting to a particular point in Kogi State, I called a senior official in Federal Ministry of Power and asked him what the Minister is doing, that in some places there is no need to wait for long to award such road. Like the Ilorin/Lokoja/Abuja, you can give emergency attention to it. If you are going to Akure through Okene, it is another disaster.
“They can give example of the Paris Club Refund. But every section in this country has seasoned contractors and road contractors that can be of help in terms of maintaining the roads without relying on the central”, the NSE chairman said.
Adebayo, who reeled out some of the programmes executed by his administration in the last one year, said Ilorin branch of NSE was able to organise public lecture to sharpen the skills and equip participants on latest trend in their profession.