TERRAIN, TECHNOLOGICAL INCOMPATIBILITY AS THE CAUSE OF POOR QUALITY ROADS IN NIGERIA By Hashim Suleiman
Let me start todays piece with a little story of a road around the locality I live in in Kano, northwestern Nigeria. The road links Maiduguri Road through CBN Quarters to Zaria Road and the then governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau had given a contract for the rehabilitation of the road around 2007 and before we could say Jack Robinson the road had gone bad again in just less than a year. Same happened to the road that served as a shortcut from Bypass through Zakirai to Hadeijia in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria. As a professional I was pained by this obvious waste of scarce resources and I had to start to make some research over the possible cause of the quick failure of road infrastructure in Nigeria other than the procurement of incompetent contractors as well as their incompetentsupervisors.
With the above matter in my mind, I had to always pay attention and initiated some sort of research over why Nigerian roads do not last. This exercise was in my sojourn through working in various construction companies in all the geopolitical zones of the country and I believe I found a fair understanding of such problem which was nothing more than a lack of research on the Geology of Nigeria, technological incompatibility and incompetence of the supervising government agencies.
I got prompted to write on this matter after the incident of the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna road which was initiated after the closure of the Abuja airport runway, the road is back to worse than it was in just under three years, if this is not enough to annoy any genuine patriot then I don’t know what could be more. The dualization of the Abuja-Lokoja road has also resulted in the lanes that had been freshly constructed to retract and form some sort of curly undulations on the road which leaves one driving careful to manipulate them not to cause damage to the bottom of the vehicle.
What it means here is that in a couple of years to come, Nigeria will not have a choice but to re-budget huge amount of scarce resources to reconstruct these major roads again when the funds could have been utilized for other pressing issues if the roads were properly constructed ab initio. The only elements of the road that can be said to have been constructed well are the culverts and bridges, thanks to them been a product of mixtures that can be said to be universally same.
For the road however, they are structures that are placed on the surface of the earth which is said to be a natural occurrence and could differ in structure from terrain to terrain. The Geology of Nigeria is unique and one that requires proper research in order to understand the terrain with a view to formulating a technology that will match to form a solution. For example, in Nigeria road construction today, we use the British Standard and sometimes the ASTM as Quality Control/Quality Assurance benchmarks but I have argued that the weather and geology of the UK or the USA cannot be the same with the Nigeria’s and the results of the research that resulted from such terrains cannot be superimposed on the Nigeria terrain.
Therefore, as a way forward, the Nigeria Institute of Building and Road Research must initiate ways to begin to formulate our Nigeria Standards (NS) which is expected to set out the criteria for Quality Control of local materials for construction. The Nigeria Standard is expected to replace the British Standard which is currently in use and which seem inefficient to guaranteeing stable roads. The proper delineation and understanding of the geology of Nigeria on terrain basis is equally very important in the formulation of such standards because as diverse as the country is so is its terrains.
After the formulation of standards, there then needs to be a rigorous training and retraining of the Nigerian engineers to obtain the required skills at understanding the peculiarities described above. Those in the bureaucracy have to see a need to properly supervise contractors building roads and indigenous engineers in the private sector also have to be encouraged to develop indigenous firms that have the requisite capacity to construct roads in line with formulated standards and that will stand the taste of time. This cycle will usher us into a regime of development in the road infrastructure which has gulped so much resources so far with little development.
Researches allow us an opportunity to provide specific solutions to problem, it also allows us an opportunity to develop local content and professionals that could solve local problems. Such is also required in all sectors of our national being.
ON #ENDSARS AND ONDO ELECTION
The #ENDSARS protests have held around the country in the past couple of days and my takeaways from it is the sort of waking up of youth from their slumber and docility especially over lending their voice to national discourse and participation in democratic processes. If such is sustained with strategy and peace, a youth takeover and sanity of the political space is still in sight.
As for the Ondo election which is currently underway, the hope is that the atmosphere that played out in Edo is repeated and continued with in all other elections that are to come. All is well tat ends well they say. The campaigns were well executed by both the APC and the PDP and it culminated in debates which made it difficult for pundits to predict a clear winner. May the wishes of the people prevail.
God Bless Nigeria