Some road construction in the Southeast has been suspended by the Minister of Works, Sen. Dave Umahi on Wednesday, pending review of existing and additional contracts.
Umahi gave the directive on Thursday in Enugu during the inspection of some ongoing construction/rehabilitation of federal roads across states in the South-East.
The minister expressed dismay that four bridges and three kilometers of additional work were costing N15 billion.
“I have directed directors in the ministry to sit with the contractors and review it.
“I strongly believe that there is no way that the project will cost us more than three to four billion naira, and when a project is too expensive, and the budgeting process is very low, then contractors will remain on site for 10 to 15 years,” he said.
Some of the roads inspected included the Ozalla- Akpugo-Amangunze-Isu Onicha (Enugu-Onitsha) with a spur to Onunwere in Enugu State done by Arab Contractors and rehabilitation of Old Enugu- Onitsha road also done by Arab Contractors.
Others were the construction of the Nenwe-Nomeh-Mburubu -Nara road with a spur from Obeagu-Oduma road, Enugu State, Rehabilitation of Nsukka -Ikem, Eha Amufu – Nkalagu in Ebonyi State among others.
Umahi commended the quality of work done on some of the roads in Enugu, adding that he stopped certain payments until contractors, and the ministry reviewed the existing contracts and additional works.
The former Ebonyi governor said he stopped payment of RCC and Arab Contractors until they all sit down to review the cost of the projects and methods of construction.
He also said because of funding he had directed works on spots should come in the second phase to enable contractors to complete carriage ways first.
He equally directed the contractor handling the Mmaku road seven days to return to the site to cover the binder course.
He also directed that the right-hand side of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway be done with concrete to save costs.
“I discovered something unprofessional where contractors put a binder course and leave it up to five to eight years, and within that period, the binder course fails.
“Henceforth, no contractor will leave the binder course for more than one month without covering it because the binder course admits water which affects subgrade.
“It is not healthy for contractors as they lose money for the equipment they are using to maintain the work,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the binder course is an intermediate, bitumen-bound aggregate layer placed between the base layer and the surface of an asphalt pavement.
The minister explained that Nigerian roads failed because of the bad asphalt placed on them as a result of adulterated bitumen imported into the country.
According to him, most of our roads are not failing because of sub-base or subgrade but fail because of bad asphalt placed on them.
“So the fight of turning to concrete is a continuous one, and we will not give up until our roads are able to last up to 30 years to 40 years without maintenance when built.
“At Enugu section three to Port Harcourt section 3, I have also directed that the second carriage be totally done on concrete as we are safer with concrete in southeast roads,” he said.
To buttress his point on the concrete road, Umahi, who took newsmen to Nigercem – the first cement factory in Nigeria, said the factory road built in 1950 with concrete was still stable as well as other roads in Nkalagu built with concrete seven years ago.
“This is what we are advocating and basically, Southeast, South-South, and South-West roads shall be on concrete because of their terrain,” he said.