There was a division among senators on Wednesday over the present conditions of federal roads in Edo State, especially the portions of Benin-Ekpoma-Okene Road, Benin-Sapele Road and Ewu-Uromi-Agbor Roads that linked the state to the North and other southern parts of the country.
This was sequel to a motion sponsored by the three senators from the state; Clifford Ordia (Edo Central), Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South) and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North), respectively, who alleged neglect of the roads.
Presenting the motion on behalf of others, Senator Ordia noted that the roads were constructed more than 30 years ago, and boosted socio-economic activities between the North and South of Nigeria.
He, however, said due to age, wear and tear, certain portions of those roads were beginning to fail, a development that had caused untold hardship on commuters plying them.
“In 2022, following a series of complaints by commuters and motorists plying the Benin-Ekpoma-Okene Road, the contract for its reconstruction and dualisation was awarded by the federal government.
“In the same vein, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan also awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the Ewu-Uromi-Agbir Road before his administration ended in 2015.
“In 2021, it was reported that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki attempted to intervene in fixing the failed portion of the Sapele-Asaba Road, especially the PZ-Junction-Ologbo axis of the road, he was however stalled by the federal government, with the reason that it is a federal road and that the contract for its rehabilitation has already been awarded.”
However, in his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege denied that the project was abandoned, saying, rather, it is being carried out in phases due to paucity of funds.
Also, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South) said a 34,000-kilometer road is too much for the federal government to handle considering its lean resources, stressing the need for state governors to be encouraged to do the maintenance and reconstruction of federal roads and be refunded later.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said it was unfair to allege that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had not done well in road maintenance.
“What was given to the Federal Ministry of Works in 2015 was N22 billion. The APC administration that took over gave the ministry over N200 billion that same year. I am just trying to put the records straight.
“There is a clear commitment from this side to address this national issue of the poor condition of our roads. For us here in the Senate, and the National Assembly, what we need to do is to be really patriotic. Just support the Executive to ensure our roads wherever they are, whether they are in Delta, or in Jigawa or in Abia we don’t care. It is Nigerians that are plying these roads.
“But I think for anyone to say that the roads; over 34,0000 kilometres have not been attended to well by this administration, I think is unfair.
“So, I want us to be guided. But we have not done enough. Despite this we need to do more. But we are far better in the last seven years than the people that served for 16 years,” Lawan stressed.
The Senate accordingly urged the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to commence immediate repairs on the failed portions of Benin-Ekpoma-Okene Road, Benin-Sapele Road and Ewu-Uromi-Agbor Roads that linked Edo State to the North and other southern parts of the country.
It also called for adequate funding to complete the reconstruction of the roads and come up with a plan to settle all lingering issues bordering on their dualisation with contractors, and also review the terms and conditions of the contract to meet the current realities of inflation.