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Senate Rejects Motion To Bring Back Tollgates.

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The Senate yesterday rejected a motion to re-introduce tollgates in the country.

The upper chamber, however, urged the Federal Government to rehabilitate and dualise of major highways and interstate roads across the country.

It also asked the Federal Ministry of Works to explore additional ways to fund federal road rehabilitation projects.

It mandated its Ad-hoc Committee on Works to audit all road projects, with a view to producing raw data for further legislative action.

The Senate underscored the need to find lasting solution to road problems in the country in view of its negative impact on trade and commerce.

The resolutions of the Senate followed a motion by Senator Dino Melaye, co-sponsored by 90 others.

In his lead debate, Melaye lamented that trillions of naira had been spent on road re-construction and rehabilitation since the return to democracy with minimal or no impact.

Senator Samuel Egwu (Ebonyi North), who supported the motion said there was no better time to reconstruct all federal roads than now that Nigeria was working towards diversification of the economy.

Egwu noted that Federal roads in the Southeast had been in bad shape since the civil war despite the contributions of those from the region to the growth of the economy.

He said: “The roads in the Southeast, particularly in Ebonyi State are death traps.

“Ebonyi State is one of the hubs of agriculture but the roads are in bad shape and that has made movement of goods and services to other parts of the country difficult.’’

The Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, (Ekiti South) in her contribution, said with the paucity of funds in the country, relevant stakeholders ought to find means of raising funds to rehabilitate existing roads.

Olujimi added that the Senate should ask its Ad-hoc Committee on Works to liaise with the Ministry of Works to find solution to funding of road projects.

Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nassarawa West) said the lifespan of most vehicles had been reduced owing due to poor condition of roads in the country.

The former Nasarawa governor also lamented increasing traffic congestion on the Mararaba-Nyanaya-Keffi road linking more than 15 states.

He called on the Federal Ministry of Works to create additional lanes on the road to ease traffic and reduce pressure on the road.

He said: “I want to let the Senate know that the road that leads from AYA in Asokoro, Abuja to Masaka in Nassarawa State ordinarily takes few minutes.

“With the congestion, however, it takes about three hours or more for commuters to get to their destinations depending on the time of the day.

“There is need for something urgent to be done in this regard because of the negative effect on the economy.”

Senator Abdulraham Abubakar (Kogi East), on his part, noted that to ensure adequate funding of road projects, tollgates should be re-introduced.

Abubakar said “Re-introduction of tollgates is important. This is because the budget given to Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Ministry of Works is not adequate. The revenue from the tollgates would go a long way in maintaining federal roads.’’

He called on the Federal Government to pay adequate attention to re-construction and maintenance of railroads.

The suggestion for the reintroduction of tollgates was rejected by Senators when it was put to vote.

Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who summed the contributions said the poor state of roads had contributed negatively to the development of the economy.

Saraki decried the fact that roads in smaller countries in the region were in better shape than roads in Nigeria.

He noted that “there is need for a concerted effort to ensure that factors responsible for poor condition of roads in the country are tackled.

“For Nigeria to develop we must begin to look at why we find ourselves in this situation.

“We must also look at the contribution of the private sector as well as the quality of contractors who handle road construction and rehabilitation’’

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