By Emmanuel Isibor

Infinity Tyres

In his advert on May 29, 2024, to mark his achievements on the first year anniversary of the present federal government of Nigeria in office, Minister of Works, Engr. David Umahi stated that against all odds, the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road, Section II, that is, the Kaduna-Zaria axis is now 90% complete.

The Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road (AKR) is a significant highway project contracted to leading engineering construction company to revamp from the Federal Capital city, Abuja through Kaduna and Zaria to Kano.

The project involves the reconstruction and infrastructure development of a 375 km section of the A2 highway which runs from the capital city, Abuja, to the city of Kano in northern Nigeria. The goal being to establish better connections between the northern regions of Nigeria and the southern parts to enhance transportation, trade, and economic development in the region.

In addition to roadway reconstruction, the project includes the provision of footbridges, road lighting, toll roads, service stations, and rest facilities along the highway.

The project is part of the Trans-African Highways network, which aims to create well-developed road-based trade corridors across Africa.

A notable feature of the project is the use of cold recycling with foamed bitumen as the construction method. Cold recycling is an environmentally friendly approach that optimally utilizes existing construction materials and conserves valuable resources.

In the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road Project, Julius Berger is employing the Bitumen Stabilised Material, BSM mixture of reclaimed asphalt pavement material, foamed binder, active filler and fresh aggregates to produce a unique road infrastructure for the government of Nigeria. The reason is simple.

As road construction surges across Nigeria, the depletion of crucial resources like gravels and granites poses a significant challenge.

The tremendous 380km length of the Abuja-Kano Road project requires blasting and excavation of rocks and granites. It is in response to this development that Julius Berger introduced this Cold In-Place recycling technique, revolutionizing the approach to infrastructure development.

Road construction puts pressure on natural resources like gravels and granites depleting its availability for future use.

To mitigate the environmental impact of the project, Julius Berger, for the first time in Nigeria, introduced the Cold In-Place recycling methodology. This approach enhances both road durability and eco-consciousness and has attracted attention all over Nigeria.

The Ahmadu Bello University Zaria now partners Julius Berger Nigeria Plc in an internship programme that allows its students understudy the methodology for practical experience to replicate for sustainable road construction. This is a plus for the loaded CSR CV of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.

This innovative method has numerous benefits. The new road is planned to have an increased bearing capacity, compared to the previous pavement constructed with granular base course, leading to an extended lifespan. It is environmentally friendly and helps to conserve natural resources, considering the reduced need for new material to be mined / damaged asphalt to be dumped. Furthermore, construction traffic is greatly reduced compared to conventional methods; meaning fewer heavy load bearing trucks on the road, reducing road congestion and diminishing the burden on the livelihood of the surrounding communities.

It also underscores the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and collaborative progress, as evidenced by partnerships with educational institutions like Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

Julius Berger Nigeria PLC is always looking for solutions to lead us into the sustainable future.

With the introduction of Bitumen-Stabilized Material (BSM) to Nigeria, JBN is the first company, to make use of existing (recycled) materials by means of Cold Recycling Technology.

BSM simply means, Cold recycling with Foamed Bitumen aka Bitumen-Stabilized Material – is commonly RAP material and/or Granular Base Course (GBC) material mixed with a limited amount of Cement as an Active Filler, Water and Foamed Bitumen, which is produced by injecting water to hot Bitumen.

After six years of BSM experience for the Abuja-Kano Road, the significant advantages of laying BSM are practically visible. It increases the structural strength of the road due to an increase in cohesion to withstand traffic loads immediately after construction. Furthermore, BSM reduces the moisture sensitivity drastically.

According to some published literature, Julius Berger brings together people, materials, and machinery at the right time and at the right place in order to implement new, innovative products into the construction market.

Which was why that by mid-July 2023, Trial Field Tests were conducted with PolyGRA (Supplier: Gradient), which is a polymeric modifier. This granulate is added directly to the asphalt mixer resulting in Polymer modified Asphalt (PmA) by making use of Standard Bitumen 60/70.

Several representatives of Ministry of Works and the Pavement Evaluation Unit (PEU) reportedly joined in the exercise to monitor the performance of PmA and to follow up with further long-term tests. So far, Julius Berger continues to get applause for the innovation, the publication stated.

Inspite of intervening factors, there have been ongoing efforts to complete and upgrade the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road. As of now, 100 kilometres (though not in a continuous stretch) have been completed under sections one to three (Abuja-Kano), 40 kilometres have been completed under section two (Kaduna-Zaria) and 70 kilometres have been completed under section three (Zaria-Kano).

The recent hour bestowed on Julius Berger Nigeria Plc by the prestigious Environment Reporters Association of Nigeria, ERAN no doubt underscores the foregoing.

According to the specialised Group of Journalists, we note that, after we have carried out discreet survey on your operational activities majorly on your adherence to Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA over the years, we decided to honour Julius Berger Plc as a corporate body with 2023 Environmental Best Practices Award.

The Group continued: besides your adherence to EIA, we discovered that your construction operations have been strictly within the ambit of environmental laws for the sustainability of the Nigerian Environment in consonance with global standards.

ERAN further noted that Julius Berger’s operational modalities comply with international best practices and respect the environmental rights of communities in your areas of operations with professional sound analytical and research skills, combined with scientific and technical experience in management and administration resulting in demonstrable achievements in the preservation, restoration and development of the Nigerian environment, as a body.

In fact, what Julius Berger is doing on the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road project is employing cutting edge innovative approach that aims to reduce the strain on the environment during building and design processes that would result in creating healthier living spaces while minimizing environmental impact. Simply put, that is, being eco-conscious in road construction.