By Kayode Adegbehingbe
Akure, Ondo State capital, is experiencing development in many ways. When it comes to rehabilitation of roads, it seems heaven is now shining on the town.
After the rehabilitation of the main Oba Adesida road in the first term of Dr Olusegun Mimiko as the Governor, not much seemed to have the done afterwards to make the people smile when it comes to roads.
Akure kept expanding, the population kept increasing, new places kept opening up, and there are many roads which have fallen into disrepair, sort of fallen through the cracks when it comes to attention.
Therefore the demand for better roads has never been higher. In comes the Ondo State Asphalt Company and it is doing many things to redo our roads.
In an interview with The Hope, the Chairman of the company, Engineer Kehinde Osikoya, revealed some things that might be wrong with road management in Nigeria, which are definitely lessons for the future.
According to him, because of the politics of the impact that totally new roads will make, government seems to concentrate on it. With that not much gets done when it comes to older roads.
But we know what happens when there is neglect in that area, the people suffer, people get cut off, when access roads become unmotorable, cars develop fault, and car owners visit the mechanic oftener.
The Ondo State government is doing something in the direction of putting our roads on a sound footing when it comes to rehabilitation with the passage into law of a bill authorizing the establishment of an agency to take charge of road maintenance and rehabilitation in the state.
From hints dropped by Engr Osikoya, the focus of the agency is to employ direct labour, which is a proven cost effective means of handling things.
With the huge number of kilometers of road that need attention, when the agency kicks into full swing, it would generate employment opportunities, and many contractors would also benefit. That definitely would take the award winning urban renewal initiative of the government up a notch.
It was through direct labour that many of the neighbourhood markets, which dot the landscape of the state, were constructed.
Talking about the road rehabilitation that OSAC has been engaging in, Engr Osikoya said that it costs half of the amount normally collected by foreign contractors. So when the proposed agency comes into full swing we should expect more roads to get our attention.
Since the state does not have to break the bank to give our roads a face-lift, we are on our way to being a really modern city.
There is little we can do without motorable roads. And when they can come cheaper, the better for us. We do not have to be stuck in the mode of the past, we need new thinking.
A new thinking that needs to be explored, also coming from the conversation of Engr Osikoya with the Hope, is making roads from concrete cement.
According to him, such roads need zero maintenance, it is resistant to all manners of abuse.
He said that anything you can throw at it, it can take, noting that in the United States of America many roads are like that. The point is that, over time, the initial high cost gets levelled off as the people enjoy the road longer (the enjoyment value) and with the long term zero cost of maintenance.
And that is apart from the fact that the cost of cement is reportedly going down while that of asphalt is going up. The Nigerian Society of Engineers is pushing for an adoption of cement roads. Let’s get going on that, can we? What are we waiting for?