A Principal Officer, Society of Civil Engineers, Mr Sharafadeen Olumo, says politicising of road construction works across the country is one of the reasons for the failure of roads.
Olumo said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, road construction is a function of the traffic that is plying it. A road that does not have too much traffic could be constructed with lesser thickness.
He explained that the amount of traffic expected on a proposed road construction would form the design and the number of years it envisaged to last as well as the amount of thickness required.
“You will wonder that there are roads that are constructed and they last very long because all the engineering factors were put in place.
“But in most cases, the truth is that our own construction work is more political than standard.
“The reason is that if for example an amount, let’s say N100 million can only cover 10km of road, a politician will want to use N5 million to cover 20km.
“So instead of it having a thickness of say 80mm, they would now be struggling with 20mm, instead of a road that will last 60 years, they will construct a road that will stay for the duration of their tenure,’’ Olumo claimed.
The expert also added that non-adherence to engineering standards reduced the quality of roads.
He said that Nigeria was not supposed to have issues with road construction because the country still used British design standards to date, adding that the problem is always the Nigerian factor.
Olumo further said another cause of failed roads in the country had to do with using unqualified contractors for road contracts.
“Again, sometimes when politicians are ready to do the right thing, they give it to unqualified contractors, who don’t understand what design means.
“Their own is all about the profit they make, meanwhile their profit has been factored into the calculation but they want to make ten times their profit and as a result, they will do a shady job,” Olumo said.
Speaking on the effectiveness of using cement and asphalt on the road construction, the expert said that the asphalt or cement is good, adding that they are just for the surface covering of the roads.
“The surface is just to protect the foundation which is actually the road. The main work has been done before that black asphalt is laid on it but the moment the formation fails then that asphalt is helpless.
“So, every other engineering work that needs to be done, if not done, if the proper materials to fill the foundation are not used, then that surface is helpless when the foundation fails,” he said.
On what the institution could do to ensure road sustenance, he said that the institution was not an enforcement agency but could only speak out when it noticed infractions.
He said that the organisation could be likened to NGOs, that could only point out things that were not right or how they ought not to be but it behooved on the authorities to take charge and enforce the right practice.
“The other engineering body that can still do something better is COREN but they are just like EFCC, they only act based on complaints brought to them.
“It’s an investigative mechanism; because it is still a government owned institution, it can only give its recommendation but at the government level, if there is no political will to do the right thing, things will still remain the same.
“It’s just for those who have the political power to right the wrongs, and resolve to do the right things,” he said.