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FG Says Using Asphalt For Road Construction Not Banned

The Federal Government has backtracked on its decision to construct all federal roads using only rigid concrete pavement.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, disclosed the policy reversal during a meeting with all contractors at the ministry headquarters on Thursday.

This latest development comes several months after the minister directed all contractors handling Federal Government highways across the country to immediately dump the use of asphalt and adopt concrete technology.

The announcement, which was met with stiff resistance from contractors, stalled the completion of several road projects, including the Benin-Warri dual carriageway and Benin-Sapele sections 1-3 in Delta State, the Maraba-Keffi road expansion in Nasarawa State, and the Minna-Zungeru-Tegina-Kontagora road in Niger State, amongst others.

But Umahi, meeting with all contractors in Abuja on Thursday, the third of its kind since the minister assumed office in August 2023, said the government didn’t ban the use of asphalt but was trying to cut down on its geometric pricing.

He, however, gave a caveat that specific road projects will be constructed using concrete pavement.

He said, “We have not banned the use of asphalt, but we would have to moderate the escalation of asphalt prices.

“But in 2024 going forward, some projects will still be on asphalt with the shoulders on concrete, while some critical roads will be fully on concrete.

“There are some places that we must make our roads fully concrete, and I won’t accept asphalt on those roads. This is very important.

“We have banned surface dressing on all our “roads; whether you are doing asphalt or full concrete, no more surface dressing. Because it doesn’t help. It is the source of failures on our roads.”

The former Ebonyi State governor further instructed all contractors to return to the site, assuring that the government has made adequate provision of funds for the construction of roads in the 2024 budget.

Continuing, the Minister charged the contractors to complete 150km of roads in 36 states and the federal capital territory FCT in 2024.

The 5,550-kilometer road network target, when added together, is the minimum for the year.

The target excludes palliative work and other special projects embarked upon by the federal government.

“Can we have about 150km of road completed in 2024 in each state? What does that mean? If we have 5 contractors working together in the same state, then 150km divided by 5 is 30km, so it’s achievable.

“Nigerians will want to see if can we complete 150km in each of the 36 states and the FCT and you will see the total number of roads completed and that will be a good way to start.

“We are not talking about the palliative. And if it’s a dual road it’s just 75 km so let’s just start, and I’m sure that we’ll definitely get there,” he said.

Speaking on plans to clear the N1.5 trillion project debts, he said the federal government has set up a verification committee to verify contractors’ certificates and recommend payments.

“I want to assure you that every verification made will be paid; we are going to have an automated payment system. You are requested to come up with proof of how these debts are incurred.”

He further warned contractors to stop phishing for documents but rather come forward for any documents they need for their use.

He said using ministry staff to illegally acquire unauthorised documents will cause the staff to lose their jobs when caught.

“Stop working to sack our staff by illegally acquiring documents. Stop phishing for unauthorised documents,” he concluded.

Reacting, an indigenous contractor with Gerawa Global Engineering Company, Shehu Liman Wan, commended the minister for assenting to the needs of Nigerians for good quality.

He also vowed to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefit of their taxes by building good and durable roads.

He said in an interview after Thursday’s meeting, “We are aware of the new directives by the minister, and we will do our best to build good and durable roads. The government has shown serious interest in revamping our road infrastructure, and we will do our best for the benefit of all Nigerians.

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