In this report, MUYIWA OYINLOLA writes on the giant stride of Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, in the area of road construction with the unprecedented construction of a 500km concrete road in the state capital, Benin-City.
Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, leaves no one in doubt of his unfeigned understanding of the importance of roads to the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people of Edo State. If the road is unduly rough, the governor understands, the journey surely will be unpleasant, and the desire for the destination may wane.
This explains why Governor Obaseki reiterates his unambiguous commitment to the development of road infrastructure in the state. During his recent commissioning of the newly constructed 500km Nevis Street Road, which links four major roads in Benin City, the governor reaffirmed his administration’s resolve to make certain that within the four years of his first term in office he completes 3000km of roads.
To be sure, all of these roads will not only enrich the development of infrastructure and make life more meaningful for the people in the state, they will equally generate decent jobs for all categories of people especially youths who will be given requisite training in road designs and constructions using concrete technology.
One of the things that will stand out the roads to be constructed across the state under this administration is the use of concrete technology. The newly reconstructed Nevis Street Road is the first road to be reconstructed in the state using concrete materials.
Constructing roads with concrete rather than asphalt will facilitate durability. Road construction experts have maintained again and again that rigid concrete is more durable than asphalt; it has a lifespan of between 20 and 40 years. Such roads are less likely to have potholes. The surface of concrete is also better at preventing automobile skidding, it ensures the safety of people and in that connection helps reduce the frequent spate of accidents necessitated by poorly constructed roads.
Besides, concrete roads do not drain the coffers like asphalt roads when it comes to maintenance. Asphalts are money guzzlers when maintenance is considered. If heavy spending on road maintenance is out of the way, money will be available for other equally important programmes. With concrete pavement, it is a win-win for both government and the people. Already in many advanced societies of the world, concrete roads are more increasingly in vogue. The reason for this inheres in the great benefits it offers.
Of the significance of constructing roads with concrete, Mr. Ashif Juma, the Managing Director of AG-Dangote, the company contracted to refurbish the Nevis Street Road with concrete, noted further that, “Concrete has always made most sense in the long run. No other paving materials match concrete’s strength and durability in standing up to heavy usage and truck traffic. Concrete lasts longer without the need for resurfacing, patching or surface sealing. Concrete delivers structurally, financially and environmentally.”
He added that the road was constructed in compliance with Governor Obaseki’s directive that the materials must be sourced locally, noting that what the governor’s directive enabled his company to prove is the fact that concrete roads could be built within a short period.
Doubtlessly, it is the habit of leaders who are prudent and are irresolute in their commitment to the progress of their people to make sure that they maximise resources and achieve the best with what is available. Governor Obaseki demonstrated that he belongs in the fold of such uncommon leaders when he noted that given the success recorded in the use of concrete technology, about 45 roads that have been awarded for construction and reconstruction would be done solely with the use of concrete. The roads would be constructed, he observed, with raw materials sourced from within the state.
In his view, Edo State does not need to depend on foreign exchange for road construction as all materials and human capital could be sourced locally. It is to this end that the governor encouraged youths in the state to take advantage of the opportunity for employment available in the Edo Jobs Initiative by registering for it. As he emphasised at the referred road commissioning ceremony, there would be a beneficial, enduring road infrastructure revolution in Edo State, for among other things, he has “come to change the face of politics in Nigeria.”
In other words, he has come to change the narrative of road infrastructure in the country setting his state up as a model. And this is no mere sweet talk. Hear him: “The construction of this Nevis Street within seven weeks showed that this government can make promises and fulfil them. This is a revolution in our road construction. We will design our roads, and we will train our youths on roads design and construction without waiting for foreign exchange. We have all the raw materials here.”
As of now across different areas in Benin City about 29 roads are in different stages of reconstruction and rehabilitation, with some being remodelled with concrete technology.
For Edo residents, the revolution springing up in road infrastructure in the city centre in the state is no fluke. It is in view of this unmediated reality that some of them have expressed their heartfelt delight and satisfaction. The summary of their experience in this regard is that life is surely getting easier. They feel really happy that their socioeconomic undertakings will be greatly enhanced by the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads. Indeed, the journeys for which the roads are made will be more pleasurable, even as their desire to achieve the goals of their varied activities become more boosted.
Reporter who went round the state capital last Friday on a tour of some ongoing projects coordinated by the Office of the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godwin Obaseki captured the infectious gladness of the people in response to the vast improvement taking place in road infrastructure.
A resident and fabricator working along Wire Road, Iyoyin Shekiri, expressed joy over the development, saying that Obaseki had started following the developmental footsteps of his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, in ensuring that Edo people have access to good roads.
He said Wire road had never had it good in terms of access to good roads until Governor Obaseki assumed office “to redeem the people from the road that had suffered years of abandonment” and had become a death trap.
The situation at Nevis Street was not different as residents came out in their large numbers to applaud the Governor Obaseki on his determination to improve the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people through massive road construction and rehabilitation across the state.
Daniel Ohenhen, who was among the residents that spoke to reporters at Wire Road, thanked the governor for doing a good job, and appealed that more of those works be replicated across the state.
The Director of Construction in the state Ministry of Works, Mr John Obanor, explained that from the total 29 roads of over 50km earmarked for rehabilitation, 15 have been completed with either flexible pavement or rigid pavement.
At Ikpokpan Road in the Government Reservation Area (GRA), Obanor said rigid pavement with concrete was used on the road to check areas susceptible to erosion. According to him, lkpokpan Road, which was about 60 to 70 metres of rigid pavement, was expected to stand the test of time for a minimum of 25 years.
Other roads include Oba Eweka/Ogbetuo Oni Road, Osabuihien Close GRA, Wire Road, Nekpenekpen, Nevis Road, Ugbor, Nekpenekpe, Oni Street, and Jemide/Akhiobare.
Explaining the technique behind the constructions, Obanor said: “We have done quite well as regards reconstruction and rehabilitation of the roads. In fact, we are sure of completing all these roads before the rains set in proper.
“As you may have noticed, we adopted quite a number of measures to ensure these roads last longer. These measures are the combination of rigid pavement and flexible pavement. For areas that are prone to environmental condition, we used rigid pavement while we used flexible pavement for the areas that are not prone to flooding.”
In Governor Obaseki, Edo has got itself another bright mind willing to modernise the state for the overall good of a greater number of the people. The rising tide of road infrastructure, among other laudable programmes, is an eloquent proof of this.