Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, says no existing federal road can last up to seven years.
He said the verdict was based on findings gathered during his recent road inspection tour crisscrossing the entire nation, noting that some roads are riddled with potholes and have deteriorated into “boreholes”.
The minister expressed his dissatisfaction over the poor jobs done by the contractors over the years while addressing contractors from the six geo-political zones at the ministry headquarters on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Expressing his dismay at how contractors cheat Nigerians with the materials they use to construct roads in the country, the minister said the contractors have been in the habit of increasing the cost of their projects to swindle the country through contract variation and the use of asphalt materials, which are subject to the international price of crude oil.
The former Ebonyi governor also questioned the unauthorised additional work undertaken by contractors and urged them to obtain proper authorisation. He emphasised the importance of thorough documentation and clearance procedures, making it clear that contracts would not be signed without the necessary design plans and original road blueprints.
He said, “There is no project being constructed right now in Nigeria that is going to last for seven years. The question is are we going to be maintaining or reconstructing our roads every 10 years? That is what we have been doing. I travelled from Abuja to Benin City through Lokoja, all the stretches of the road are on contract, and ongoing, this is through the policy of the last administration but how much of the roads are motorable? I travelled through the roads myself and I shed tears for the kind of pains our people are going through.”
“I spent 14 hours on the road having started my journey at 10 am and got to Benin City at 2 pm the next day and I was very happy I experienced the pains. President Tinubu said I must travel through all the projects so that I could brief him on my experience and tell him the truth.
“Unless Mr. President does something about our procurement, his lofty intention to help this country may not be achieved. documents will be sent to the Bureau of Public Procurement for a no-objection certificate and it will stay for six months. How will the contractors do the additional job you directed them to do without backup authorisation.”
While criticising workers in the ministry for not supervising road projects, the minister also castigated the entire construction industry in Nigeria, stating that the poor condition of the roads is partly due to a lack of professionalism and outdated construction methods and further directed all contractors to redesign their projects to concrete technology rather than asphalt and vowed not to pay any contractor who does not adhere to the directive.
According to the minister, claims that the cement price would go to N9,000 if the government starts doing concrete roads is false, as it is part of a big campaign of blackmail against him by the cabals in the construction industry.
“This is my line of instructions and I will do whatever the president instructs me to do he is the only one and God that can cancel my instructions so don’t waste your time reporting me to anyone apart from these two. No matter the amount of blackmail and lies, it will not prevail, the minister reassured.