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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Tinubu endorses road construction with concrete, gives contractors 14 days to fix bad portions 

The Minister of Works Mr Dave Umahi said Tuesday that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fully in support of the use of concrete for road constructions in the country.

The minister said this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said some contractors have keyed into the policy just as major cement producers have agreed to provide cements at discounted rates for government road builders.

He also highlighted the advantages of cement roads over asphalt/bitumen including cheaper costs and the need to encourage local production of cement against the importation of bitumen.

“There has been a kind of campaign by some quick fix contractors and some elements within who do not wish us well, who want us to continue with the old order. But we can’t continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. The truth is that our roads are not good.

“The truth is that the past government earmarked several roads, which Mr. President inherited, close to about 18,897 kilometres of road totaling N14 trillion.

“Nigerians are witnesses to the failure of asphalt, especially in the north-central part of this country and the entire southern part of this country. And the reason is not far-fetched. We have a lot of rainfall in these locations.

“We have very high underground water. And so the asphalt is a big problem. But if you insist you want to do asphalt, that’s not a problem, but the conditions are that you will guarantee Nigerians that when you finish this asphalt road, job, you are very sure it will not fail within at least 15 years.

“The design shelf life is 20 years but assure us in writing from a reputable insurance company and their own company that this road will not fail within 15 years. We are witnesses to see all the roads constructed from Warri to Bayelsa to Port Harcourt, the East-West road. They have completely failed, they are constructed on asphalt. Sometimes they construct this road below the floodplain.

“That is number one number two. When I came on board as Minister, the cost of bitumen was 576,000 per tonne, today the cost of Bitumen within six weeks is 1 million per tonne. And for you to increase any project it has to go to the Bureau of Public Procurement and it has also come to FEC.

“So with this kind of mechanism on the volatility of the international oil market, which has the consequences on the asphalt because it’s a byproduct of refining and also the dollar pressure, the pressure on the naira, we are saying if you’re doing asphalt please let us have a contract. So that you will not vary the contract beyond five percent which is what is allowed in the contract.

“So you are not going to import adulterated bitumen. Why is it that when you bring bitumen here you are putting a modifier and enhancer? The question is, where do they put all these things? Why would you allow adulterated bitumen and then you come here you say you’re putting a modifier? We are all witnesses that in the 50s the roads constructed on asphalt were much more durable than what we witness today.

“We are not saying people should not construct roads on asphalt but if Nigerians are saying they should not have value for their money, that roads should be continued to be constructed every year, the same roads. That is very unfortunate. And that is what my ministry is fighting,” he said.

The minister said the government has given contractors handling road projects that were abandoned a 14-day ultimatum to return to sites or face revocation of their contracts,” he said.

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