By ABAH ADAH, Abuja
Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi, has justified his position on conditional use of asphalt or concrete technology to construct highways across the country, noting that what is required is for the conditions attached to the use of either of the two to be adhered to.
The Minister who was making clarification when the President of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari Wudil, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja, insisted that by all professional standards and experience asphalt pavement cannot compare with that of concrete in terms of economic advantage.
According to separate statements signed by Chief Press Secretary to the Minister and the AD, Information, Media and Public Relations in the ministry, Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji and Clement Ezeorah, respectively, the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State explained that there were many reasons why the issue of concrete technology came up which can only be understood by professionals, and not by people who have no knowledge about it.
“When you start to compare asphalt and concrete, it is as if all things are equal, here all things are not equal, because there are many factors why we are emphasising the use of concrete, nevertheless, people speak about a profession they have no knowledge about,” he said
He explained that the stand of the ministry is that if you are using either of them, there are certain conditions according to the terrains in different states that will require our roads being built with concrete and it must be used as pavement.
“We are not just comparing asphalt and concrete, no, that is not what we are doing. What we’re saying is that if you’re using asphalt, there are conditions; if you’re using concrete, there are conditions. But there are certain terrains in states that we stressed you must use concrete; we cannot change that. You cannot put asphalt in water but you can put concrete into water,” he said.
The Minister explained that the rate at which the prices of these two products fluctuate is alarming and that increment in asphalt is in geometric while that of concrete is in arithmetic progression, adding that the federal government is the one funding these huge projects and must tread with caution, taking into consideration the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Works.
Umahi expressed his worries saying that the greatest challenge experienced in road construction is the problem of supervision caused by lack of commitment, by not putting professional ethics over and above chasing of money, but stressed that the ministry was committed to providing adequate supervision to all road constructions across the 36 states and the FCT.
“If you are committed to public things, God will give you new ideas, if you are not committed to public things, you will not get new ideas,” he said.
The Minister hinted that the ministry will partner with the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) in the supervision of all road projects across the country.
He encouraged NSE to improve on professionalism by opening a training school, both in the North and in the South, one each, pledging his support.
“We are going to partner with NSE in the supervision of all road projects and will also emphasis the need for retraining schools across states . Engineering is wide, if you are a professional engineer, you will not have problem with professional ethics,” he said.
Umahi maintained that the first job of NSE is to bring discipline among members by setting standard for membership in the sense that if any action against the profession is committed, one can be disrobed noting that everyone cannot be an engineer.