Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Following the growing concerns over the deteriorating conditions of several federal roads across the country, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Works has assured Nigerians of addressing them.
The Minister of Works, David Umahi, gave the assurance on Monday while outlining the Ministry’s plans for immediate action to address misconceptions about road pavement materials via his official X handle.
The deplorable federal roads include but not limited to the Makurdi-Nsukka-9th Mile Road, East-West Road, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Benin bypass road, collapsed bridges on the Enugu-Port Harcourt road, Shandam-Plateau State, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, and Gombe-Bauchi, among others.
Speaking on the development, Umahi said President Bola Tinubu is aware of the challenges inherited from the previous administration and is committed to addressing them.
Without prejudice to all the good efforts of the past administration on road infrastructure development, which they tackled within the limit of their resources, the work to be done to change the ugly state of our roads is quite enormous,” Umahi said.
He noted that with the recently approved 2023 Supplementary Budget of $300 billion for the Ministry of Works, which includes $100 billion for immediate palliative works in 36 states and the FCT and $200 billion for the continuation of most inherited ongoing projects and very few new but critical road projects, Tinubu has directed that these palliative projects begin before December 1, 2023.
Umahi also said that the engagement of the ministry will not be limited to any of “these isolatedly reported cases” but shall be a holistic approach to road infrastructure development, with the engagement of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in all 36 states and FCT.
In a bid to enhance transparency and accountability, the Minister calls on the public to supervise contractors engaged in palliative works and ongoing projects.
“It is the right of every Nigerian to have value for their money deployed to the road infrastructure sector and therefore must show both interest and passion in all the ongoing projects by the Federal Ministry of Works and FERMA, and indeed all projects of the Federal, State and Local governments.”
“All poorly constructed roads should be photographed and reported immediately to the following contacts: 08030986263, 08037086137, or 08106423197, showing the name of the contractor, the location and type of contract, and defects observed.”
In response to concerns about the use of asphalt and concrete pavement in road construction, Umahi stated that while asphalt is not prohibited, it encourages contractors to consider using concrete pavement in certain cases, particularly for projects with a design shelf life of 50 years.
“Those who are complaining and demarketing this policy are simply those who do not wish Nigeria well and they are the same people that use adulterated bitumen in their projects while putting pressure on our Naira through the importation of adulterated bitumen instead of developing our abundant God-given bitumen deposits in Ogun State and other parts of Nigeria. Insofar as this new policy has not violated any law, the Federal Ministry of Works is forging ahead with this new policy,” he added.
According to the minister, this policy is not in violation of any existing contracts and it is committed to ensuring that all road projects are constructed to the highest standards.
Umahi also noted that the ministry is very concerned with the supervision of the projects and effective December 1, there will be a revolution in the ways and methods the ministry supervises its projects nationwide, adding that anyone found culpable in his or her assignment will not be spared.
He added that directors of works in the 36 states and FCT, as well as FERMA, have been directed to audit all projects, including equipment, personnel, financial status, challenges, and completion percentage.
“This assignment must be completed before 30th November 2023. Note that this directive was given in the past two months.”