The managements of the Federal Road Management Agency (FERMA) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission are in a partnership that would engender a sustainable road infrastructure mechanism for the country.
The decision was reached at a meeting between the two agencies in Abuja on Tuesday.
At the meeting, the ICRC Acting Director General, Engr. Chidi Izuwah and FERMA’s Managing Director, Engr. Nurudeen Rafindadi, agreed to study all options and pick the ones that would change the dynamics of road infrastructure in the country.
Stressing the importance of injecting private capital into road infrastructure projects as done elsewhere, Izuwah explained that the fastest way to recover the investments would be through tolling in addition to an effective Operate, Maintain and Transfer mechanism.
He said the ICRC is prepared to bring the private sector to work with the FERMA management, noting that, if properly handled, there would be an added boost to the economy with the creation of high net worth jobs.
Lamenting that the past management of FERMA failed to utilise the opportunity offered by the ICRC since 2010 to work together, Izuwah expressed optimism that the Rafindadi-led management would speed action on the proposed partnership.
He said: “We are here to help FERMA to drive the partnership between the public and private sector in road maintenance infrastructure. Tolling is one mechanism to recover investments on road maintenance. Another mechanism is Operate, Maintain and Transfer.
“It is extremely important that private capital is brought into the infrastructure projects. So we are here to look at the ways and means where we can drive public private partnership in road maintenance to grow the economy. As ICRC, we will like to work with you by bringing in the private sector to work with you so that you don’t fail.”
Describing Izuwah’s presentation as captivating, Rafindadi said FERMA would be glad to work with an institution like the ICRC with its passionate belief in the efficient management of infrastructure for the good of all citizens in a sustainable way.
He said the partnership should “mark a formal handshake that would go a long way in the realisation of the objectives of FERMA.”
Rafindadi, while explaining that all departments of FERMA would embark on series study tours to the National Highway Department of India which has been successful in handling the country’s road infrastructure challenges, said the agency will make use of the informed decisions offered by the ICRC.
“I think we have a worthy partner on this journey. I see a lot of work ahead of us. These are the things that are doable but we seem to have a challenge. We seem to have a flux in the policy of the road sector reforms in Nigeria for a while now. We seem to have an unwillingness to imbibe the road sector reforms probably because of our size. One of the things that we will need to grapple with is how to deal with issues surrounding our public procurement thinking.”