The Federal Government has opposed the plan by the Senate to scrap the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and replace it with the Federal Roads Authority (FRA). The upper chamber of the National Assembly was wanting to repeal the Act establishing the agency having being sponsored by the chairman of its Committee on Works, Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South) in October this year.
In moving for its disbandment, the former Kano State governor had alleged lack of capacity, citing the deplorable state of the roads nationwide over the years.
Gaya in his lead debate said FRA would serve as a semi-autonomous road agency responsible for the professional management of federal roads in the country involving planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, thereby ending the duplication of functions between FERMA and the Highways Department of the Ministry of Works.
But in puncturing the move yesterday at a public hearing in Abuja, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said FERMA was already a brand which should not be changed.
“We welcome the idea of creating roads fund, we also welcome the idea of creating a maintenance agency but we think this will be details of the substance of the presentation that I will make.
“We think that all of the recommendations that have been made for maintenance should be embodied in the agency that government has already created, FERMA.
“Repeal the existing FERMA law, re-enact it and put all of the new things we want to create inside it instead of creating a new agency because FERMA was set up for maintenance in the very first place.
“It has acquired the name, it has acquired the brand, we can build on that brand instead of creating a new one. People who managed brands like this change their drinks but they don’t change their names,” he remarked.
Also yesterday, the chamber expressed displeasure over the failure of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) to appear before it over the move to repeal a 58-year old Act to allow for its efficiency.
The Hope Uzodinma-led Committee on Customs and Excise was yearning to get the service’s input for the piece of legislation titled, “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act Bill 2016.”