OrderPaperToday – The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has said it is indebted to road contractors to the tune of N20 billion.

The agency therefore lamented that this situation is affecting the rapid rehabilitation of roads across the country.

Acting Managing Director of FERMA, Peter Ibu stated this when the agency appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on FERMA, Wednesday.

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He also lamented that money to offset the debt was not included in the 2016 budget.

According to him, the agency had earmarked 170 billion naira as intervention fund that would cater for critical road maintenance in 2016 but the National Planning Commission “asked us to reduce the items to seven which include Capital (Roads and Bridges), Recurrent, Direct labour, Completion of field offices and construction of new ones. General overhead, ICT, as well as Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Department and PPP.”

He added that the zero budgeting system was affecting operations of the agency, saying “I expect government to look into debt issues.”

Speaking earlier, chairman of the committee, Mr. Jerry Alagboso (PDP, Imo) said many Nigerians are still complaining about the poor state of roads in the country in spite of huge resources allocated for the roads.

“The importance of roads in the distribution of goods and services in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized,” he said.

He said that some of the deteriorating roads were suffering from poor drainage systems, substandard bridges and culverts among others .

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