Coming on the heels of the Itori-Ibese concrete road, the gospel of the innovation has spread to Kogi state where a similar construction work linking Obajana with Kabba is ongoing. Driving the revolution is AG Dangote, the construction arm of the Dangote Group Plc.
The 42.5km concrete road project was flagged off on November 22, 2016 with a completion period of 24 months at a cost of N11.5bn but was awarded to the company on tax concession basis at N5.24bn.
The 26km Itori-Ibese road project was part of Dangote’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) and was commissioned in June, 2016. The success story must be the motivation behind the Obajana-Kabba road construction.
All things being equal, the ongoing project should be commissioned by the end of the year. So far, 33km earthwork and 22km concrete pavement have been done. It is expected that the revolution would stretch beyond Kabba down to Ilorin which is one of the federal roads in deplorable condition. Motorists plying the road are beginning to have a feel of the comfort of the revolution even while the construction work is still on.
Being a major manufacturer of cement, the major component of the project, it is quite understandable that the company has been in the forefront in championing the use of concrete in road construction. According to experts, it is about 20 per cent cheaper to use cement for road construction in the country, given the fall in the value of the naira and cement prices.
It has also been proven in countries like the United States and India, where the craze for concrete roads has caught on for decades, that concrete roads are far more durable than asphalt. In comparison, a concrete road can last for more than 50 years, while the asphalt-based road may last for up to 20 years only with top quality construction which may not be in Nigeria.
The solution to the weak road infrastructure in the country lies in the Dangote rigid road revolution. Nigeria currently harbours the worst road network in the world, ranking second highest country with road traffic accident fatalities out of 193 nations captured by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to available statistics, Nigeria records 33.7 deaths per 100,000 population annually, next to Thailand with the highest statistics of 38 deaths per 100,000 people.
Besides other contributing factors fueling automobile accidents and avoidable deaths in the country such as reckless/drunk-driving, unqualified and poorly trained drivers behind the wheels, putting faulty vehicles on the highways, presence of heavy duty trucks, and embezzlement of funds meant for road maintenance, poorly executed road projects using substandard materials are largely responsible for most of the road crashes.
Road accidents kill more Nigerian road users annually than dreaded diseases like malaria. The establishment of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) decades ago has only succeeded in reducing fatalities on the highways because there is no alternative for good roads.
It is a well-known fact that our roads became endangered when the railway subsector collapsed in the 80s. Consequently, the roads have been left at the mercy of heavy duty trucks such as trailers, fuel tankers and luxurious buses that daily pound them with no commensurate maintenance. The Nigerian highways are defined by eye-popping potholes and trenches, thus constituting death traps that claim lives daily and maim others. Many motorists have lost their lives running into potholes or colliding with oncoming vehicles in a bid to avoid the deathtraps.
We urge the state and federal governments to key into the Dangote revolution. Besides the cost benefits and longer life span advantage over asphalt/bitumen-based roads, concrete roads will reduce the stress of motorists and the cost of maintaining their vehicles. Nigerian highways are notorious as destroyers of vehicles aside from being wasters of innocent lives.
By embracing concrete roads, the government will also wean itself from the high cost of maintenance/rehabilitation and frequent reconstruction of roads that are usually poorly executed ab initio. Such funds in local and foreign currencies can be funneled into meeting the needs of the citizenry and other critical socio-economic sectors.
At the moment, Nigeria produces more cement than any other country in Africa with over 40m metric tonnes per annum, representing a massive potential to change the nation’s road infrastructure story. With the abundant availability of the key component at our disposal, it will not be out of place for the government to come up with a policy embracing the Dangote revolution for road delivery from henceforth.