Contractors are encouraged to replace asphalt with cement in the construction of roads frequently used by heavy vehicles to reduce the cost of maintenance, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said Monday.
He said the cost of maintenance of bitumen roads applied with asphalt, a tar material processed from petroleum, went up in tandem with the rise in fuel prices.
"When bitumen peaked at RM1,300 per tonne some time in 2006, studies showed that the initial construction cost for typical asphalt primary roads designed to carry 16 million axles was more expensive than a plain concrete equivalent," he told reporters, here.
Earlier, he opened a concrete road symposium of the Asean Federation of Cement Manufacturers.
Samy Vellu said the Works Ministry was formulating a policy on the matter, taking into account the cost of construction, current price of cement and supply of the product.
He said there had been a case where a road project stalled because the contractor requested an amendment of the contract following an increase in the cost of building materials, particularly asphalt, which cost more owing to higher petroleum price.
Samy Vellu said the contract provided a clause to allow the contractor to renegotiate the contract with the government and the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) when the price of raw materials rose.
He said concrete roads were not something new in Malaysia because they had been constructed in several rural areas as well as along certain sections of the North-South Expressway.
Samy Vellu said the latest technology in concrete road construction, known as "whisper" concrete in Europe, helped to reduce the noise produced by vehicle tyres.
He said steps were being taken for the use of cement along several segments of the East Coast Expressway.