On November 30, 2023, the Federal Ministry of Works clarified that it does not intend to use concrete pavement for all road construction in the country. Adedamola Kuti, the Director of Federal Highways, provided this clarification during his presentation at a public hearing organized by the joint House of Representatives Committee on Works, Environment, Finance, Justice, and Science and Technology. Earlier, despite backlash from stakeholders, David Umahi, the Minister of Works, had informed a delegation from the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) that the federal government has embraced the use of concrete pavement in the nationwide construction of its roads.
Kuti clarified that the choice between rigid or concrete pavement (cement) and flexible pavement (asphalt) would be contingent on factors like the road terrain. He emphasized that the federal government’s decision to embrace concrete technology in road construction was driven by the overarching interests of the country. He mentioned that they had been working on flexible pavements and clarified that the Federal Ministry of Works does not insist on all ongoing projects switching to rigid pavements. The decision between rigid or flexible pavements, he explained, depends on the terrain. He also noted that something significant had been happening recently.
Umahi stressed the need for efficiency and completion.
Previously, the minister had addressed the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Abidjan Highway in Abuja during a briefing by the ECOWAS delegation, led by its Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy, and Digitalisation, Sediko Douka. According to a statement from the ministry, the minister emphasized the need for efficient work and swift completion by proposing a systematic approach, such as breaking the highway project into manageable sections. Umahi added that they are taking into consideration the peculiarities of the areas along the corridor, acknowledging that not all sections might be viable.
He suggested, “I think, for ease of work and speedy completion, the project should be sectioned, and we need to establish a process to make it achievable because some sections might be viable while others might not be.” Umahi emphasized the significance of the highway project, stating that it would drive rapid regional integration, enhance commercial activities, and foster social development among member states. He also advocated the use of concrete pavement on the Nigerian corridor, noting that there are a lot of advantages using concrete in road construction without having issues of portholes or washout.
Economic integration in Africa faced challenges.
Meanwhile, in his earlier remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Douka, observed that Africa’s economic integration faced challenges due to significant deficits in its transportation infrastructure. He elaborated that the 2050 ECOWAS vision aims to improve infrastructure development, recognizing economic growth and people’s integration as factors contributing to the creation of a regional environment conducive to the free movement of people and goods. Douka conveyed that the 1,028 km road project had been initiated by the heads of governments of Benin (128 km), Côte d’Ivoire (155 km), Ghana (576 km), Nigeria (79.5 km), and Togo (89.2 km) in Yamoussoukro, Côte D’Ivoire, on February 28, 2013.
According to him, the project’s steering committee comprises the ministers of works from the corridor member states and the commissioner for infrastructure of the ECOWAS commission. Their responsibility, he mentioned, involves offering oversight guidance for project implementation, with each minister reporting back to their respective governments. Additionally, the Director of Infrastructure Department at ECOWAS, Malik Ashoke, disclosed that the link bridge connecting Nigeria and Cameroon has been finished and officially inaugurated.
Senate had yet to make its decision on concrete public.
At that time, the Senate had said that it would make public its decision on the adoption of concrete technology on federal roads soon. Now, the legislative chamber has, rejecting the idea. This was amidst the ongoing tussle between contractors and the works ministry over the directive to immediately dump the use of asphalt and adopt concrete technology. The president of the Nigerian Institution of Highway and Transportation Engineers (NHTE) had also noted that for any project to be truncated and converted to rigid pavement projects will be a violation of contractual agreement and may lead to litigations.