By Goodluck Ikiebe
The Nigerian government says it is committed to outstanding quality, value for money, innovation, responsiveness, fast deliveries and technical expertise in road infrastructure development in Nigeria.
The Hon. Minister of Works, *Engr. Nweze David Umahi,* disclosed this when the national leadership of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) led by its President, *Engr. Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari Wudil* paid him a courtesy call in his office in Abuja on Thursday.
The Hon. Minister emphasized the importance attached to quality delivery of construction works by the Renewed Hope administration of President Bola Tinubu, stressing that the ‘business as usual’ syndrome in road construction is no longer tenable under the Renewed Hope agenda.
He reeled out the new policies on road infrastructure to include:
• Good stabilized and tested subgrade, sub-base course before pavement placement.
• Expose subgrade, sub-base and base course to 60 days vehicular movement and continuous sheep-foot rolling before pavement placement.
• Introduction of reinforced concrete road pavement in most roads carriageway and shoulders.
• Continuous maintenance of all roads under construction throughout the life of the project
• Effective design of road infrastructure anchored on detailed report of environmental site conditions and geotechnical report.
• Community relations in terms of keeping roads motorable under the period of the contract.
Engr Dave Umahi said that supervision was necessary in the actualization of quality delivery of road construction whether concrete pavement or asphalt, noting that each of the two models has its own attendant conditions.
“When you start to compare asphalt and concrete, it is if all things are equal, here all things are not equal, there are many factors why we are talking about concrete”, he explained.
The Works Minister noted that the stand of the Ministry is not about comparing asphalt and concrete pavement but that if you are using either of them, there are conditions attached to them, adding that there are certain terrains on our roads that make it imperative for concrete pavement to be used.
” You cannot put asphalt in water but you can put concrete in water”
Engr Dave Umahi explained that the rate of increase in the cost of materials for construction of the two models is alarming and argued that the cost of materials for asphalt is in geometric progression while the cost of materials for concrete pavement is in arithmetic progression.
He reiterated that prudence and value for money are the watchwords of the Ministry of Works under him, and this involves getting materials at the minimum purchase price and maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the product, urging the leadership of Nigerian Society of Engineers to consider retraining of members of the society and enforcement of discipline and strict standards of ethics in the practice of Engineering in Nigeria in the interest of public safety and for the protection of the economic investments.
“I went to China and I saw their roads, there was no evidence of any maintenance in nearly 30 years. And I asked them what is the reason, and they said that if you build a road in China and within your lifetime, the road fails, they will come for test and if there is any evidence of compromise, the person responsible goes to prison for life”
The Hon. Minister offered partnership with the NSE in the area of supervision and consultancy.
In his mission statement earlier, the President of Nigerian Society of Engineers ( NSE) said the aim of the courtesy call was to seek areas of collaboration with their own and described the Hon. Minister as a round peg in a round hole, “Since after your assumption of office, we have been monitoring your progress, and I must tell you we are not surprised, what you did as Governor in Ebonyi State is amazing. We visited you when you were the Governor of Ebonyi State and I am going to visit your Governor now. I must go because it is like a pilgrimage. Infact Your Excellency, we are proud of you”.
The President said that the Society, which is an umbrella organization for Engineering profession in Nigeria is committed to best Engineering practices.
He enumerated the achievements of the Society and the prospects of their smart office project, and expressed hope that it would be an innovation hub of the nation.