Amidst a dispute between the Minister of Works, David Umahi, and road contractors regarding the shift from asphalt to concrete roads, Umahi has informed President Bola Tinubu about the development.
He expressed his determination to advocate for concrete-made roads, believing they have a longer lifespan than asphalt roads.
Umahi stated, “So I briefed Mr. President on what we are doing by introducing reinforced concrete technology for our road pavements. Incidentally, Mr. President is also an infrastructure guru. And he fully supports that we should use reinforced concrete for our road pavements.”
Road contractors have raised concerns about the high cost of transitioning to concrete technology and importing heavy-duty road equipment, suggesting that the government set a timeframe for the shift.
These contractors have protested against the abrupt order to switch from asphalt to concrete, viewing it as a breach of contracts that could lead to significant financial losses. They have invested heavily in asphalt technology equipment and imported raw materials, and transitioning now could result in substantial losses.
Umahi remains resolute in his stance, asserting that cement roads are more reliable and cost-effective than bitumen and can last up to 50 years. He is determined to fight entities opposing his plan and has already reported the situation to President Tinubu.
The Ministry of Works inherited a substantial portfolio of road projects worth N14 trillion, spanning 18,000 kilometers, from the previous administration. Since taking office in August, Umahi’s ministry has paid N4 trillion of the outstanding N14 trillion owed to contractors for various road projects across the country. However, there is still a significant funding gap of N6 trillion.
Umahi also criticized the current appropriation system for federal road projects, where funds are disbursed in a piecemeal manner, affecting project delivery.
He urged President Tinubu to engage with the National Assembly to prioritize projects and allocate sufficient funds for their successful completion.