The Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi has said the ministry’s support for the use of concrete technology for road construction is rooted in its benefits.
Umahi noted the Ministry’s position on the use of either asphalt or concrete on the construction of federal roads across the nation saying that each one has conditions attached to its usage.
Umahi said this while receiving the President of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Engr. Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari Wudil who paid him a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja.
During the meeting, the minister emphasized the importance attached to quality delivery of construction works by the Renewed Hope administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu stressing that the ‘business as usual’ syndrome in road construction is no longer tenable under the Renewed Hope administration.
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 under contract; effective design of road infrastructure anchored on detailed report of environmental site conditions and geotechnical report and community relations in terms of keeping roads motorable under the period of the contract”.
The minister explained why the issue of concrete technology came up and it’s only because all things are not equal and can only be understood by professionals and not by people who do not know about it.
Umahi said, “When you start to compare Asphalt and Concrete, it is as if all things are equal, where all things are not equal, because there are many factors why we are emphasizing the use of concrete, nevertheless, people speak about a profession they do not know about”.
He explained that the ministry’s position is not about comparing asphalt pavement and concrete pavement but that for contractors using either of them, there are certain conditions according to the terrains.
According to him, “We are not just comparing asphalt and concrete, no, that is not what we are doing, first of all, for the use of asphalt, these are the conditions, also for the use of concrete, these are the conditions, but there are certain terrain in states that we stressed must use concrete, we cannot change that. You cannot put asphalt in water but you can put concrete into water”.
The Minister explained that the rate at which the prices of these two products fluctuate is alarming and that increment in asphalt is Geometric while that of concrete is in Arithmetic progression noting that the federal government is the one funding the projects and must tread with caution taking into consideration the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Works.
Umahi expressed worry about the poor supervision of public works and promised to work with the Nigerian Society of Engineers to check quackery and improve the quality of engineering services, especially on federal road projects.
He said, “If we are committed to public things, God will give you new ideas, if you are not committed to public things, you will not get new ideas.
“We are going to partner with NSE in the supervision of all road projects and will also emphasis the need for retraining schools across states.
“Engineering is wide, if you are a professional engineer, you will not have a problem with professional ethics.
“The first job of NSE is to bring discipline, you have to bring us under your leadership so if you hear that a member has committed fraud, you can disrobe him and it is not everyone that will answer the name -Engineer”.
“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”
Earlier, the President of Nigerian Society of Engineers ( NSE), Engr Tasiu Saad Gidari Wudil 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.