By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Infrastructure forms part of the five pillars or thematic areas on which Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration is anchored. Other thematic areas are oil and gas, trade and commerce, agriculture, and education.
No doubt, the administration has demonstrated a stride unprecedented in the history of the state in road infrastructure. Scores of roads have been constructed, reconstructed or rehabilitated across the state, especially Aba, the commercial hub of the state while scores are ongoing.
These roads are done with solid drainage systems. The essence of this is to save these roads from immediate decay as a result of flooding which is occasioned by the inability of storm water to flow through blocked drainage.
The more cheering news in this road infrastructure revolution is that the state had pioneered the cement technology, which is also known as the”Rigid Pavement Technology”. This technology ensures the durability of the roads.
Gov. Ikpeazu has always emphasized the essence of building roads that would outlast his administration. In his words” it will be unfashionable if money is borrowed to build roads and within the life span of the administration, money is borrowed to rehabilitate it”.
Cement technology ensures the mixture of crush rock-based materials and other items to achieve a thickness fill and compaction to the level of 300mm. This is followed by a concrete reinforcement cast with 8mm to10mm-high tensil (mash of wires) reinforcement bars over the stabilised base before treating it with prime coat and asphaltic concrete.
Though the cost of this technology is higher than those of the conventional construction methods, it is preferred as a means of strengthening the load-bearing capacity of roads in Abia and to boost the strength and quality of the finished work.
The technology has a sustainability guarantee of10 to 20 years. Cement technology is one of the technologies used in the construction of airport runways, tarmac and places with heavy loads like machines and equipment. The technology is a good solution for achieving sustainable roads in Nigeria.
Besides the long life span of concrete roads, they are environmentally friendly. Concrete roads are more environmentally friendly compared to asphalt roads and this reduces the frequent repair or patch works on the concrete roads like asphalt roads.
Rigid cement technology is highly desired in this season of recession because it will be unfashionable for the government to return to the roads which it has initially constructed before the next rainy season. These reasons justify the adoption of the rigid cement technology in some roads constructed in Abia.
Indeed, the Ikpeazu administration has lived up to its bidding by providing quality roads for Abia residents. Unfortunately, the residents of the state, especially Aba are exhibiting attitudes inimical to the durability of these roads.
Mature and responsible adults have inculcated the habit of dumping refuse into these drainage despite the presence of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency’s (ASEPA) receptacle bins or waste buckets. The implication of this is that the dumping of the refuse lead to the blockage of the drainage. When this happens, the storm water would not flow and the roads are flooded and subsequently eroded.
Another worrisome aspect is that some sections of these roads have been converted to car wash or emergency mechanic workshops. The perpetrators of these unwholesome activities have refused to withdraw despite intensive media campaigns mounted by ASEPA against these activities.
These activities pose great challenge to these roads which government constructed with its meager and hard-earned resources. Some of the materials used in the car wash business are corrosive in nature and possess the potentials of eroding these roads. On the other hand, oil and other lubricants used in car repairs contain dangerous substances that are inimical to the roads.
There is an appeal here to the relevant government agencies, especially ASEPA to go beyond media campaigns to enforce stricter measures within the confines of the law to check these unwholesome practices. These measures can manifest in the forms of fines which could boost the revenue base of the state or lighter jail terms to deter prospective defaulters.
Also, Traffic and Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State (TIMAAS) should issue specific hours when broken-down vehicles should last on the roads or be impounded for the owner to claim it with the payment of fine.
In major locations of the towns in the state, broken-down vehicles spend hours if not days before they are removed. These scenes do not only constitute an eyesore but pose serious traffic challenges. Most times, the owners of these vehicles prefer carrying out repairs on the roads, an activity that is inimical to life span of these roads.
On this note, kudos should be accorded to the Deputy- General Manager (Aba and environs) of ASEPA, Chief Rowland Nwakanma for sustaining the legacies of his predecessor, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu. Undoubtedly, the sanitation situation of Aba has witnessed a remarkable improvement as the” flower pots” which mountains of refuse dumps littering the streets of Aba in the past were derogatorily referred to have all disappeared.
Aba is now witnessing prompt evacuation of refuse. Though the agency may be facing one challenge or the other, the passionate appeal to Chief Rowland Nwakanma is for him to sustain the tempo of his achievements.
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