Government Halts South-East Road Projects Amidst Cost Concerns
In a surprising move, Dave Umahi, the former Ebonyi State governor and current Minister of Works, has put a stop to several road construction projects in the South-East region. This decision comes as the government reviews existing contracts, expressing concern over escalating costs.
Umahi issued the directive during an inspection of ongoing road construction and rehabilitation projects across South-Eastern states, conducted in Enugu State. The minister expressed dismay at the staggering price tag of N15 billion for four bridges and three additional kilometers of work.
“I have directed directors in the ministry to sit with the contractors and review it,” Umahi stated, emphasizing his belief that the project’s cost should not exceed three to four billion naira. He pointed out that excessively expensive projects with inadequate budgeting often lead to contractors lingering on-site for extended periods.
Several key road projects were under scrutiny during this inspection, including the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, Nenwe-Nomeh-Mburubu-Nara road, and more. Umahi commended the quality of work on some of these roads in Enugu but halted certain payments until contracts and additional works could be thoroughly reviewed.
The minister took a firm stance, suspending payments to RCC and Arab Contractors until cost evaluations and construction methods were reevaluated. He also imposed a seven-day deadline on the Mmaku road contractor to return to the site to address the binder course.
Umahi emphasized the importance of addressing binder course promptly to prevent water damage and costs associated with equipment maintenance. He also advocated for the use of concrete on the right-hand side of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway as a cost-effective measure.
The minister attributed the failure of Nigerian roads to subpar asphalt, often compromised by adulterated bitumen imports. According to Umahi, road failures are more frequently due to poor asphalt quality than issues with sub-base or subgrade.
In summary, the decision to halt these road projects reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring cost-effectiveness and quality in infrastructure development. Umahi’s actions aim to address escalating costs and prevent delays in critical road construction and rehabilitation initiatives.