In a significant development that promises to reshape road construction practices across Nigeria, the Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, has issued a decisive ban on the use of laterite as a base material in road construction projects. This bold move comes as part of a comprehensive strategy to enhance the longevity and quality of the nation’s road infrastructure.
A Paradigm Shift in Road Construction
Traditionally, laterite has been a commonly used material in road construction, owing to its widespread availability and cost-effectiveness. However, the Minister’s directive signals a paradigm shift in the industry. Henceforth, contractors undertaking road construction projects in Nigeria are required to utilize lumps, sharp sand, and stone as the foundational base before the laying of concrete or asphalt pavement.
The Rationale Behind the Ban
Minister Umahi’s decision to ban laterite stems from a deep concern for the structural integrity and sustainability of Nigeria’s road network. Laterite, while readily available, has several inherent limitations that make it unsuitable for long-lasting roads. These limitations include:
1. Limited Load Bearing Capacity
Laterite, when used as a base material, exhibits a limited load-bearing capacity. This characteristic makes roads susceptible to structural damage, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall and flooding. The resultant degradation poses a significant maintenance challenge and compromises road longevity.
2. Susceptibility to Erosion
Laterite is highly susceptible to erosion, particularly in regions with erratic weather patterns. Over time, erosion can erode the road’s foundation, leading to structural instability and a decrease in overall road quality.
3. Shortened Lifespan
Due to its inherent weaknesses, roads constructed using laterite as a base material tend to have a shortened lifespan. Frequent repairs and maintenance become necessary, incurring additional costs and inconveniences for the public.
The Roadmap for Sustainable Infrastructure
Minister Umahi has emphasized the critical role of road infrastructure in Nigeria’s socioeconomic development. He envisions roadways that promote commerce, education, security, and power supply. To achieve this vision, the Ministry of Works is resolute in its commitment to upholding the “renewed hope agenda” of the administration regarding road infrastructure provision.
The Imperative of Continuous Maintenance
In addition to the ban on laterite, Minister Umahi has directed the newly inaugurated Road Taskforce Team to prioritize continuous maintenance of all roads under construction. This proactive approach ensures that roads are kept in optimal condition throughout the project duration, reducing the need for extensive post-construction repairs.
Contractors undertaking road construction projects in Nigeria are expected to adhere strictly to the new guidelines. The Ministry insists on contractors’ accountability and adherence to construction standards. To facilitate this, the Road Taskforce Team will closely monitor contractors, ensuring that construction methods and maintenance protocols are followed to the letter.
A Stable Contract Environment
The Ministry’s commitment to stable contracts is unwavering. Minister Umahi has explicitly stated that no variation (VOP) on contracts will be accepted. Contractors utilizing asphalt pavement are urged to ensure that their contracts are stable, sustainable, and capable of withstanding the test of time. This approach eliminates the need for frequent contract renegotiations due to fluctuating material prices.
To maintain transparency and efficiency, the Ministry has set specific requirements for contractors before mobilization funds can be released. Contractors must have already mobilized 50% of their equipment and personnel to the construction site. This ensures that contractors are fully committed to project execution and minimizes delays.
Upholding Citizen Rights
Minister Umahi has emphasized the importance of upholding the rights of both contractors and citizens. While contractors are expected to deliver on their contractual obligations, citizens are entitled to safe and well-maintained roads that facilitate ease of movement and economic activities.
The ban on laterite as a base material for road construction is a pivotal step towards achieving sustainable and high-quality road infrastructure in Nigeria. Minister Umahi’s decisive actions underscore the government’s commitment to improving commerce, education, security, and power supply through enhanced road networks.
As Nigeria embarks on this journey towards a brighter future, the Ministry of Works remains steadfast in its mission to ensure the successful implementation of these transformative measures. With a focus on accountability, stability, and quality, the nation is poised to witness a revolution in its road infrastructure, bringing us one step closer to the realization of our collective aspirations.