Minister of Works, David Umahi, has declared a ban on the use of laterite as a base material in road construction in efforts experts say are targeted towards improving road quality and durability.
This directive was issued during the inauguration of a committee responsible for supervising the reconstruction of the Benin-Warri dual carriageway and the dualization of the East-West Road, including the Port Harcourt-Onne Port junction road in Rivers State.
According to a statement released on Friday by the Ministry of Works Director of Information, Press, and Public Relations, Lere-Adams Blessing, Mr Umahi emphasised that laterite has limitations in load-bearing capacity, is vulnerable to erosion, and weathers quickly, especially in regions with heavy rainfall.
These factors contribute to the degradation of road surfaces over time, pose maintenance challenges, and result in shorter road lifespans.
“We are giving very serious attention to the roads between Benin and Warri, and we are also mindful of the site conditions, including water conditions and the need for proper infrastructure maintenance,” he said.
He reiterated that laterite is no longer an acceptable base material and directed contractors to utilize lumps, sharp sand, and stone as the base before laying concrete or asphalt pavement.
The minister also emphasised the importance of continuous maintenance throughout the construction process.
He urged the newly formed Road Taskforce Team to inform contractors about this development and reminded them of the ministry’s commitment to former President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to improve Nigeria’s road infrastructure.
Mr Umahi underscored the role of road infrastructure in revolutionising commerce, education, security, and power in the country.
“Road infrastructure is one of the key factors for the revolution of our commerce, education, security, and power in this country, and Mr. President is committed to our road infrastructure improvement,” he added.
He stressed that contracts must remain stable without variations, particularly for those employing asphalt pavement, and made it clear that the ministry would not request additional funds from the Federal Executive Council due to fluctuating bitumen prices, insisting that projects must stay within the allocated N6 trillion budget.
In an effort to ensure contractors’ commitment to their projects, Mr Umahi mandated that mobilisation funds would only be released once contractors had deployed 50 per cent of their equipment and personnel to site.
He concluded by emphasising the need for contractors to respect both their rights and the rights of citizens in the execution of projects.