SPEECH DELIVERED BY ABIA STATE GOVERNOR, OKEZIE VICTOR IKPEAZU, Ph.D AT THE CONSTRUCTION SUMMIT, 2018 HOLDING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS ON SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2018
It gives me great pleasure to be in your midst today for two main reasons.
The first is that this event is holding in an academic environment which is always home for me. I have said it at various fora, I was a teacher before venturing into politics and as soon as my assignment in political office is over, I shall return to the classroom to continue teaching so I am always excited to receive invitations to speak at academic environments as it gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my primary constituency.
The second reason why I am excited about being here today is the knowledge that this platform gives me the opportunity to discuss the novel and unique approach we have adopted in tackling the infrastructural challenges of Abia State especially as it relates to road construction, the philosophy behind our approach, the methodology, the arguments for and against and our convictions.
Permit me therefore to, within the short time allotted to me, talk to this distinguished audience about what we have been doing in Abia State as it relates infrastructural development, especially road construction, since we came on board on May 29, 2015.
Upon assumption of office, we inherited a rather massive infrastructural deficit. A number of roads in Abia State, especially in the commercial nerve centre of Aba were either fraught with treacherous failed portions or in many instances, completely collapsed and therefore, impassable. Problem however was that a good number of these roads had been built and rebuilt several times over and they hardly survived the rainy season after their construction. We knew that something was wrong. We also knew that we could not continue doing things the same way and expecting a different result.
We decided that to tackle the infrastructural challenges of Abia State, we needed to first conduct an analysis of why newly built roads were failing within a year of their construction or reconstruction. We engaged professionals like the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and consultants to understudy the problem and report back to us within a short time. They did and confirmed what our internal analysis had also revealed.
i. Most of the drains and stormwater channels in Aba were blocked by silt so most times, during and after the rains, rainwater has no outlet and end up percolating atop existing roads thus leading to the corrosion of the asphalt and gradual road collapse.
ii. Lots of roads had been waterlogged for a long time and the soggy undersoil were not been evacuated before fresh asphalt is overlaid on the road thus leading to retained water seepage into the new asphalt and imminent collapse.
iii. The perennial collapse of roads in Abia State wereas a result of the non-factoring of the pattern and channel of storm water evacuation in the course of constructing roads in Abia State.
It was as a result of these discoveries that we decided that we were going to address these challenges using innovative and unique solutions.
i. Upon realization that for as long as we do not solve the stormwater evacuation question in Abia State, our roads will continue to fail, we decided to devote the first 100 days of our administration towards tracing the natural route of stormwaterin Abia State and as much as possible, restoring the originally designed flow pattern. This decision meant that we embarked on a massive desilting of drainage paths in Aba and demolition of some properties that were in the way of the drains.
Thus, for the first time in decades, hitherto blocked drains were reopened most times, deep underground and because we assumed office in the rainy season, we were able to observe the natural flow of rainwater and ensure that its path was not impeded all the way to the Aba River which is the natural rainwater terminal point for Aba.
i.b.Still on our Integrated StormwaterManagement Programme, we conducted a survey which revealed that Abia South Senatorial Zone was the lowest lying zone in the State with Aba metropolis as the lowest lying area while the Ifeobara pond is the lowest lying point in Aba and Abia State in general. It is a natural pond which by virtue of its location, is a natural collection point for rainwater but building encroachments, blocked paths and neglect led to its underutilization and loss of purpose. We have since corrected that anomaly. The Ifeobara Pond is today an engineering wonder in Abia State and we have restored the Pond to its original intendment while recovering the original land area and introducing modern technological and engineering innovations that have ensured that the Pond is once again, playing its natural role as collection point for stormwater in Aba. These innovations have ensured that today, when it rains, within 30 minutes of the rain subsiding, Aba metropolis is dry and free of percolated storm water.
ii. Our unique approach to eliminating this challenge was the introduction of Rigid Pavement Technology in Road Construction in Abia State.This entailed using sharpsand as base of the road sought to be constructed, laying corrugated wire mesh on the sharpsand, pouring a concrete mix with a minimum Grade 30 Cement mix on the Mesh, allowing to cure for 21 days before laying asphalt as final layer. We adopted this technology for all roads that had been waterlogged for more than 5 yeard starting with ENUC Road in Aba. So far, we have applied the same technology for Umuola Road, Ibere, Onyebuchi, Ochefu, Owerri Off Okigwe and Owerrinta. I am proud to report that ENUC Road was rebuilt in 2015 and 3 years later, it is still standing firm without any damage. Same applies for other roads mentioned.
Our guarantee in Abia State is that the roads built by our administration will have a minimum 20 year solidity period before they require maintenance and I am proud to state that we are keeping our word. We have not returned to rebuild any road built during our tenure. For the first time, roads in Aba are outliving several rainy seasons unlike what hitherto obtained.
iii. Because storm-water channels were not factored in hitherto in road construction in Abia State, it meant that roads built in the state had no guarantee of longevity. We have changed that narrative. Our roads are now built to last. As a Policy, all the road projects embarked upon by our administration come with double side drains. In addition, we trace and determine the flow pattern of the drains and emptying point before we start construction to ensure that storm-water, which is the bane of our roads, has an outlet.
In some instances, we have spent more than the cost of the road itself in resolving the drainage flow of the road. An example is Faulks Road, Aba where we had to construct a 6.5KM Undergound Drainage System to evacuate rainwater on the road. Same goes for OomneRoad, Aba where we constructed a drainage longer that the length of the road in other to find an emptying point for the rainwater on the road. Prior to 2015, Oomne Road, a major outlet/inlet of Aba Metropolis,was perennially broken down despite annual reconstruction works. It has been 2 years since our administration rebuilt Oomne Drive and it is still standing strong despite experiencing the onslaught of 3 rainy seasons.
Another example is Aba Road in Umuahia where we are also implementing innovative construction technologies to salvage the major entry road into Umuahia, the State capital which hitherto experienced annual collapse due to waterlogging. Our administration introduced capillaries at the base of the road to empty into the Umuahia big gutter and elevated the road thus bringing it at par with or above sea level unlike what hitherto obtained where the road was below sea level and was prone to waterlogging.
I have taken time to explain all this to say that our administration does not just construct roads. It is an art for us. We undertake Integrated StormwaterManagement System on our roads. We first study the road to understand which of our three available construction technologies to adopt to wit:
1. Rigid Pavement Technology: For Roads that have failed for more than 5 Years and are thus prone to moist soil.
2. Asphalt with Capillary underlay: For roads lying in low beds and natural water retention points and
3. Strictly Asphalt: For new roads and roads in plain areas and solid soil terrains.
To date, our administration has commenced work on 147 Road projects in 3 years. 67 of these roads have been completed while 80 are ongoing. About half of the ongoing roads will be completed by December 2018.
We have also built 3 critical bridges which have reconnected communities that were hitherto separated due to lack of access.
LAGOS INTERLOCKING PAVING STONES TECHNOLOGY – RATIONALE
Mindful of the fact that I am in Lagos and that the predominant solution for road construction, especially on Lagos Island, is Interlocking Paving Stone, I will quickly discuss the rationale behind that and why we are taking a different approach. As you all well know, the bulk of land on the Lagos Island is sandfilled land which is naturally prone to underground water rise and seepage. Interlocking paving stones then becomes the best option for such terrains to allow for rising underground water to find an outlet through the gaps in the stones. If you use asphalt without proper underground piling, you stand the risk that the asphalt will be undermined by the rising water. Water unfortunately is a universal solvent. Overtime, it dissolves or weakens everything. The only way to manage water is to enable it pass through its natural way without causing damage.
RIGID PAVEMENT TECHNOLOGY VS ASPHALT COMPARISM
I have tried above to explain the difference in necessity for the application of Rigid Pavement Technology and regular asphalt in road construction. I will do a quick overview of the cost implication.
To build a simple asphalt road will cost between N3,800 to N4,000 per square meter ideally. Rigid Pavement Technology however costs about N4,500 per square meter although in terms of longevity and maintenance costs, Rigid Pavement Technology have been adjudged to last longer and require less maintenance than regularly asphalted roads. The initial high cost outlay usually discourages its usage. Again, most road contractors already have a full range of equipments for asphalt road works. Deploying Rigid Pavement Technology means acquisition of specialized equipment for its usage. For example, a contractor deploying Rigid Pavement Technology will have to acquire Concrete Pavers which are quite different from Asphalt pavers, Concrete Mixers, Levelers, Stabilizers and other such equipments required for RPT which are not common in these climes.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, I am proud of what we are doing in Abia State. Roads for us are an enabler for the ease of movement of goods and services which is a basic minimum requirement for the thriving of our economy. Because Abia State do not have the luxury of huge resource inflow, we have decided to be smart about how we expend the one we have and ciefamong this strategy is ensuring that we do not return to any road that we have already built. We cannot afford to be rebuilding roads every year. For every road we have built, 10 more await attention so it is imperative that we get it right so we can face future challenges.
That is what we have done in Abia State. That is why we are not just building. We are building to open up the state to free flow of people, goods and services, we are building to open up access to peoples house. We are building to strengthen our economy.
We are building to last.
I thank the Vice Chancellor, the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, the organizers and all distinguished guests at this event. I also express appreciation for the award given to me in recognition of the work we are doing.
I thank you all for your time and I wish you fruitful deliberations.
23/06/18, Lagos, Nigeria.