Roads remain the commonest means of transportation in Nigeria.
This is so, especially as rail transport has gradually lost steam in the country following years of neglect by successive administrations. The inability to expand rail transport infrastructure to cover more towns and cities in the country, coupled with rising insecurity, have put more pressure on the roads in the country.
The result is that emphasis has over the years, shifted to haulage by road, thereby leading to frequent collapse of roads.
Aside this fact however, there is the angle of the quality of construction by contractors in view of the rising cases of build-and-collapse associated with road construction across the nation notwithstanding the huge amounts involved.
The recent move by the Minister of Works, Senator Dave Umahi to strengthen the quality of federal roads in the country is welcome.
The federal government through the Works Minister, had directed its road construction contractors not to use laterite as a base in road construction any longer.
Accordingly, the minister was said to have directed that lumps, sharp sand and stone base would form the base before laying of concrete or asphalt pavement of federal roads going further.
Umahi reportedly gave the order at the inauguration of the committee for the supervision of the reconstruction of Benin – Warri dual carriageway and the dualization of East – West Road, Port Harcourt – Onne Port junction road in River State.
If this new policy direction in FG’s road construction is implemented, we believe that it will result in the construction of more enduring roads, which will in turn, save the government billions of taxpayers’ money expended on endless rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of most of these roads.
Again, the Works Minister who is a seasoned engineer and two-time governor of Ebonyi State, is known to have done out a lot of concrete roads in that state during his time as governor.
He therefore, understands the edge these types of materials have over laterite (mud) base in road construction.
It is also important to state that the rampant excavation of laterite for purposes of road construction often results in environmental degradation in areas where “borrow pits” are created for the excavation of laterite to fill roads before asphalting.
The Federal Government of Nigeria should now go beyond this by coming up with a national policy on infrastructure to guide the activities of all levels of government in this regard.