Nigeria: Analysts Highlight Path for Durable Road Construction for Nigeria

4 August 2020

A new report by the Proshare Nigeria Limited titled, 'Roads- Concrete Vision, Asphalt Competition, Looking Ahead,' has urged the federal and sub-national governments in Nigeria to utilize materials that are durable for road construction.

The report noted that the challenge of road construction in Nigeria over the years has been poor durability rather than inflated costs.

The reported suggested that concrete roads have an edge over asphalt-bitumen based road construction, noting that, "the problem with asphalt is that it poorly withstands heavy traffic and intense tropical weather. The implications are that roads built with asphalt have proved to be fragile. The consequence of this lack of durability has been that the governments at both national and sub-national levels have had to intermittently 'patch' roads annually."

In contrast, according to the report, "concrete roads are more durable than their asphalt cousins. Concrete roads can last between 25 and 30 years without the need for major reconstruction work or repair.

"Based on socio-economic cost-benefit analysis, concrete roads provide superior returns on social capital outlays in the medium to long-term even though competing asphalt roads may also show positive net social present values, the longer the road is expected to last, the higher the net present value of concrete (rigid pavements) over asphalt (flexible pavements)."

The report observed that the battle between concrete and asphalt is phantom, saying both are needed, but in different parts of the country and for different reasons.

It, therefore, advised governments in the country to construct roads that experience heavy traffic and deadweight tension with concrete, while roads with lighter traffic and lesser vehicular carriage should be constructed with asphalt technology subject to proper substructure preparation.

It further advised that roads in the southern part of the country that are exposed to heavy rainfall and are constructed on marshy and waterlogged terrains should be built with concrete material.

The implication, according to the report, "is that both asphalt and concrete roads will have their places in the scheme of things as concrete roads would be the default option for national and state highways and within states that experience heavy annual rainfall.

"However, competing asphalt roads would do well in the northern part of the country with savannah plains and lesser annual rainfall than the south," it stated.

It also noted that, "the hot weather predominant in northern Nigeria would not likely compromise asphalt road integrity as has been noticed by the durability of asphalt road construction in places like Abuja and the northern states of Kano and Kaduna."

The report advocated that commercial competitiveness should be the guide in creating the road architecture that fits Nigeria's socioeconomic aspirations since good roads are not an end but the means to the more important objective of facilitating efficient and effective transportation of goods and people.

It also noted that the greater the efficiency of transport distribution, the more competitive the economy gets and the better its chances of raising the living standards of its citizens.

"For example, Nigeria's domestic food value chains rest on the quality of interstate road networks. The poorer the quality of roads the higher the cost of transportation of farm gate produce to urban centres and the more difficult it becomes for Nigeria to become an efficient and cost-effective supplier of agricultural produce to the African continent.

"To thrive in a world of the AfCFTA, Nigeria must find ways of improving the movement of goods and services within its borders and expanding value distribution to neighbouring African states," it stated.

It noted that another factor that favoured concrete over asphalt roads was the available capacity within the country to sustain the production of cement and distribute it to different parts of the country by manufacturers such as Dangote Cement, BUA Cement and Lafarge Cement.

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