PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu-led Nigerian Government has said it would redesign the ongoing construction of the Akure – Ikere – Ado-Ekiti Expressway with concrete rather than asphalt.
The Minister of Works, David Umahi, disclosed this during a visit to the acting Governor of Ondo state on Friday, September 1.
Umahi, who was in the South-West to inspect federal roads on which works were ongoing, said Nigerians should expect more concrete pavements on the nation’s roads due to their extended durability compared to bitumen-based roads.
According to him, roads constructed with bitumen do not last beyond 15 years, while those built with concrete technology have a minimum of 50 years lifespan.
“Any road construction contract, awarded by the Federal Government, with less than 20 per cent progress would be redesigned to concrete pavement roads,” Umahi declared.
On March 30, 2023, towards the end of former President Muhammadu Buhari, The ICIR reported that the FG approved N95.8 billion for the dualization of the Akure/Ita Ogbolu-Iju/Ado Ekiti road, linking Ekiti and Ondo states.
The former Minister of State for Works, Umar El-Yakub, revealed that the first section of the road project on the Ondo side was awarded to two construction companies at the cost of N46.6 billion, adding that the remaining N49.2 billion would be used for the second section of the project from the Ekiti State border.
The ICIR gathered that the road had been a subject of discussions between the Federal Government and the two state governments in the past years, as it has wide economic importance.
Umahi argued that the exclusive dependence on bitumen imports had been straining the national currency, and the adoption of concrete pavement roads would contribute significantly to utilizing local resources.
He said: ”You see jobs that are still ongoing, and that is why we are going round and then redesigning a portion of roads that are maybe 10 to 20 per cent completion, and we are sure that this is the way to go and it has a guarantee of 50 years.
“Not only that, you find out that we are having so much pressure on the naira; the importation of bitumen is a lot of pressure on the naira. So, cement is a local content, and almost everything we need is not produced in Nigeria.”
He also stated that all Federal Government road projects awarded three years ago were due for review, adding that some had been reviewed through VOP (Variation of Price).
The Minister also pointed out that road construction is a constantly changing sector, with material prices continuously rising and fluctuating.
He decried a growing reduction in the quality of bitumen compared to what was obtained in the past.
“Let me put it on record that bitumen imported in the 1950s and 1960s is of higher quality than what we have today, so we have a lot of problems on our hands, and that is why we are courageous to introduce the concrete road department,” he stated.
In his remarks, the acting Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, emphasized that many federal roads in the state had either deteriorated or received inadequate maintenance, with many experiencing severe degradation.
Aiyedatiwa called for the dualisation of the Ore-Ondo-Akure road and highlighted the need to rehabilitate the Ore-Okitipupa road among other federal roads in the state.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the intervention of my boss (Governor Rotimi Akeredolu) is principally what has made these roads remain in their present motorable state,” he noted.