By Philip Nweze
It appears the Ebonyi State government may have taken the lead in making the required switch from asphalt to cement technology which is also known as rigid pavement technology in road construction.
The state, which is experimenting with this technology in road construction on over 10 major roads, has successfully completed the 23.7km Hilltop-Agbaja-Nwofe state road in Ebonyi North senatorial zone, 15.5km Ehamufu-Umuhali federal road and a section of the 23.5km Amasiri-Okposi-Uburu federal road. Undoubtedly, the technology is more durable and more sustainable and will be extended to other roads in Ebonyi.
Other ongoing and completed road projects on rigid pavement include Ezzama-Oshiri-Onicha-Isu-Uburu road, Amasiri-Nguzu-Owutu Edda road, Ntezi-Agba-Isu road, Ndufu-Alike AE-FUNAI, massive internal road networks in Abakaliki city, Onueke and Uburu, and a host of others.
The construction engineers are currently using a mixture of crush rock-based materials and other items to achieve a thickness fill and compaction to the level of 300mm and then cast with concrete reinforcement with 8mm to 10mm high tensil (mash of wires) reinforcement bars over the stabilised base course before treatment with prime coat and asphaltic concrete.
Although the cost of this technology is higher than the conventional construction methods, the state government chose to experiment with it as a way of strengthening the load bearing capacity of some roads in the state and boost the strength and quality of the finished work. Experts say while concrete roads have a sustainable guarantee of minimum of 40 years, asphalt roads last for 10 years. Aside their durability, concrete roads are more environmentally friendly compared to asphalt roads.
Cement technology is used in the construction of airport run-ways, tarmac and places that carry high load bearing capacity, machines and equipment. It is a good solution for achieving sustainable roads in the country. It is better and of a higher value than the conventional method of using only asphalt.
That is not all. Concrete roads do not require frequent repairs or patch works like asphalt roads. Besides, advancements in concrete technology have reduced the cost of concrete paving while improving performance greatly. For instance, the average life span of concrete pavements is 27.5 years before repair, while asphalt pavements have an average life span of only 15.5 years before repair.
Furthermore, researches have confirmed that vehicles consume less fuel on concrete roads. Specifically, a vehicle, when run over a concrete road, consumes 15-20 per cent less fuel than that on asphalt road. This, according to experts, is because a concrete road does not get deflected under the wheels of loaded trucks. Unlike asphalt roads, concrete roads do not get damaged by the leaking oils from the vehicles or by the extreme weather conditions like excess rain or extreme heat.
Today, Ebonyi has placed heavy emphasis on this technology and has copied this model to neighbouring states like Abia. Let me place on notice that this invention is Governor Umahi’s greatest gift to Ebonyi people.