Highway Engineers seek Senate decision on use of Concrete, Asphalt roads

…We’ll review FG decision on use of Concrete roads – Senate

By Matthew Denis

The National Chairman of Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transportation Engineers
(NIHTE), Engr. Saidu Hassan has called on the National Assembly to intervene in providing lasting solutions on the use of Concrete roads and asphalt roads in the country.

He appealed to the Senate to ensure that Government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) stick to their mandate and adhere to contractual agreement in roads construction across the country.

The National Chairman during a courtesy visit to the Senate Committee on Works in Abuja on Wednesday argued that any project to be truncated and converted
to rigid pavement will be a violation of contractual agreement and this will lead to litigation.

He said ” our prayers is that MDAs should stick to their mandate and adhere to contractual
agreement.

“We urge the Senate to facilitate the Presidential assent to the Road Sector Reform Bills (that is the Federal Road Authority and National Road Fund Bills), which would provide sound governance structure based on sectorial professionalism, as well as creating sustainable and robust funding for road development and maintenance in the
country.

Speaking on the burning issue of concerning the adoption of Rigid pavement (concrete roads) by the Federal government against the Flexible pavement (Asphalts Roads), Engr. Hassan stressed that both have advantages and disadvantages depending on professional advices on the environmental location of the projects site.

He said ” As critical stakeholders in Highway and Transportation in Nigeria,
the Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transportation Engineers has made its input on the ongoing discussion on the use of Rigid and flexible pavements in Nigeria.

“Rigid Pavements (Concrete Road) are not totally strange in Nigeria as both flexible pavements (Asphalts Roads) and rigid pavements (concrete roads) have their advantages and disadvantages. Either of them should be used where it is necessary and the choice of
pavement should be based on engineering judgement.

“At the moment, there are 2,604 Road Projects totaling 18,000Km at a total cost of N 14 trillion according to the Honorable Minister of Works. We note that for any project to be truncated and converted to rigid pavement projects will be a violation of contractual agreement and this will lead to litigation.

” Furthermore, the experiences garnered over the years, asphalt plants and other items of equipment’s used for the construction of flexible pavements would be discarded and this will amount to a huge loss to the country.

“To adopt the proposed concrete roads, ample time is required for the importation of new equipments and the training of the relevant manpower.

According to him For the existing flexible pavement to be converted to rigid pavement it will require the BPP to fix new rates for the concrete pavement,
revise the contract sum and subsequently seek FEC approval.

The Chairman explained that it is pertinent to point out that the durability of a road pavement whether flexible (asphalt) or rigid (concrete) depends on good design, supervision and maintenance as this can be achieved by
adhering to the provisions of the design manual, conditions of contracts and general specification.

“Also of considerable importance, asphalt recycling method of the
existing flexible pavements provides cost saving for a given project
which should be encouraged.

Engr. Hassan applauded the National Assembly for the prompt intervention to suspend the uniform adoption of concrete Road pavement policy by the Federal Government especially at this
period when the public space is inundated with policy statements
on the suitability of Flexible and Rigid Pavements in the road sector.

He emphasized that while the Institution of Highways and Transportation Engineers is not against the use of concrete roads, such a policy should have been subjected to the scrutiny of highway stakeholders to ensure that the appropriate engineering procedures and processes are strictly followed, and proper implementation strategies adopted.

“the adoption of any of the Highway pavement type is a function of Engineering science and economics.
We are concerned with the paucity of funds available to the Federal Ministry of Works and FERMA from the Federal budget to execute road projects capable of ameliorating the suffering of Nigerians.

According to him It has always been the opinion of Highway experts that the solution to the poor state of the network of roads in Nigeria lies with the reform in the road sector.

While responding members of the Senate Committee on Works starting with Senator Gbenga Daniel Representing Ogun East Senatorial District at the National Assembly calls the attention of the Chairman Senate Committee on Works, Senator Patrick Ndubueze saying ” the Highway Engineers have raised vital and cogent points that requires further consideration to address the issue partnering to the issue on concrete roads and use of asphalt roads.

” These important issues they have raised as an Engineer I can tell you that all over the country we have asphalt plants and if all of a sudden we now decide that we don’t want asphalt roads then what becomes of those plants which are quite huge.

“I think they have made a valid point and I’m not surprised in our profession we Engineers are practical and I want to commend them that the suggestion they make should be given further consideration.

On his part, Senator Hussaini Babangida Senate Committee on FERMA and member of the Works Committee said ” the points raised by Highway Engineers should be commended by the committee and the litigation implications of abandoning the asphalt roads will have effect.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Patrick Ndubueze Representing Imo North said ” the committee have heard your prayers on the adoption of concrete pavement by the federal government and we’ll find appropriate time to invite you and other stakeholders to this chamber to deliberate on lasting solutions to the lingering issues on the use of concrete roads and asphalt roads.

Other Senators in the Committee that were present during the visit includes Senator Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole representing Edo North, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu representing Abia North Senatorial District among others.

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