The Federal Government has urged business people in the private sector to invest in local bitumen production to meet the local demand in the country, saying all necessary incentives should be provided to make this happen.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, made this call during the opening ceremony of the 10th Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBBRI) international conference with the theme “Circular economy in the built environment for enhanced performance of the Nigerian construction industry,” today (April 27, 2021) in Abuja.
“Nigeria spends so much in the importation of bitumen for our roads. With reduction in foreign exchange earnings for the nation, due to the drop in price of crude oil in the international market, there is need to find alternatives sources of bitumen as well as to encourage the use of concrete in road construction. Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world. Nigeria’s bitumen deposit covers four states of Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos. It is estimated that bitumen reserves cannot be less than 42 billion barrels, out of which 43 industrial chemicals including heavy crude petroleum can be obtained,” he said.
Onu contended that the nation cannot have huge deposits of bitumen natural sands in the country, and continue to import bitumen from other countries, adding it does not make sense and cannot be allowed to continue.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, urged construction industry stakeholders to develop appropriate technologies that would address housing and infrastructural deficiencies using local available resources, saying the locally available resources should be able to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal’s target of providing affordable and decent housing for citizens.
“This will not just enhance the performance of construction industry but also boost the economy as one of the major ways of increasing Government revenue and improving the country’s GDP through Research and Development. The aim should be at cost reduction, zero waste and income generation that would eventually translate to improved standard of living of our citizens,”he added.
In his welcome address, the NBBRI Governing Board Chairman, William Wadni, said Nigerian construction industry had been identified as one of the fast growing around the world.
He said for Nigeria to maintain its impressive performance, it is imperative that the industry was positioned to compete with its contemporaries globally, saying NBRRI, in line with its mandate, had developed many innovations from intensive research workover the years which made vital impacts on the building and road construction sectors.
In his goodwill message, the president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Engr. A. Rabiu, represented by Engr. Felix Atume said there was need to address the depleting resources in the construction industry.
In his remarks, the director-general of NBRRI, Prof. Samson Duna, said the theme of the conference is geared towards eliminating waste in the construction industry.
“What is happening today is that most construction industries go for natural resources when they want to build. The idea is that we want to have a paradigm shift from use of natural material to the use of waste being used as a converting unit…The idea is to eliminate wastage completely, zero percent, in the construction industry so that we have like a circular economy,” he added.