The Minister of Works, Sen. David Umahi, says contractors using asphalt in road construction must sign an indemnity agreement of 30 years duration of the roads with the ministry.
Umahi said this on Monday in Abuja at a news conference to unfold the general direction of the ministry during his tenure, saying contractor using asphalt would not be stopped but must sign the durability agreement.
The minister, however, said construction of concrete road would not be enforced on projects awarded already but contractors would need to give assurance that roads built with asphalt would last up to 30 years though the concrete roads would last longer.
“We are not stopping asphalt works but it is not possible to be paying the job that we know will not stand for five years. Contractors hide under funny excuse of overloading for road not standing long.
“Nigeria must get value for their money paid as tax, enough of contractors doing shady work and getting paid for it. The concrete road when properly done will last for 50 years and we have success where we have done that apart from the one I did in Ebonyi.
“In fact before I left office we delivered Abakaliki Ridgeway Road, which was funded by the African Development Bank.”
Speaking on funding for roads, the minister however noted with concern that the way Nigeria’s budgetary allocation was designed was not encouraging for contractors to timely complete federal road projects.
He said the release of fund to contractors on annual basis made road projects to linger as in most cases the contractor access little from the funds to purchase the raw materials.
He said the delay further gave rise to contract variation as inflation affect the original amount agreed for the project.
“When you give a contractor N150 millions a year for a N600 millions road project, he will pocket it while mobilising to site without doing anything on ground.
“When confronted, he will say he is yet to get the material he requested for outside the country as the money was not enough,” he said.
He appealed to the National Assembly to release over N650 billion it withheld for some projects across the country, which he said were almost complete but lack of the fund is still keeping the contractors on site.
He said if these funds were not returned the roads will not be completed, and this according to him, have negative economic impact.
He advised that members of the National Assembly who were representatives of different Senatorial districts should meet with their state governors and determine priority projects that could be completed in time.
He advocated that to curb the instances of kidnapping of citizens along the highways economic trees and cash crops need to be planted on road corridors to prevent menace.
“Nigerians must get value for their taxes, road is everything. Where we are having kidnapping is on the spot where roads are bad, we should remove the bushes and plant cash crop. It is ideal and acceptable and we should replicate it in all parts of the country. It will remove the kidnappings,” he said.
He added that the ministry would review the operations of the Federal Road Management Agency (FERMA) to ensure that any intervention in states would be done with the input of the state government.
According to him, this would determine the priority areas of the state governments.