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Minister : Why Importation of Bitumen Makes No Sense

…Abdullahi urges private sector to support full implementation of Executive Order 5

By Dwelleth Morountodun

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said the importation of bitumen from different countries into the country must stop, even as he added that continuous importation makes no sense.

The Minister made the disclosure at the 2021 Nigeria Building and Research Institute (NBRRI) conference which held in Abuja with theme: Circular Economy in the Built Environment for Enhanced Performance of the Nigerian Construction Industry.

He said the country is blessed with an estimated 42 billion barrels of bitumen deposits in Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States.

Onu called for more investment from the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to invest in Nigeria’s bitumen sector, in order to meet local demand and increase the country’s volume of export.

The Minister said: “With reduction in foreign exchange earnings for the country, due to the drop in price of crude oil in the international market, there is need to find alternative sources of bitumen as well as encourage the use of concrete in road construction”.

“We need to bring in the private sector to in local bitumen production. All necessary incentives should be provided for this happen. We cannot have huge deposits of bitumen natural sands in the country and yet we continue to import bitumen from other countries. This does not make sense and cannot be allowed to continue. The business people who are currently importing bitumen into the country, should consider investing in local bitumen production.

“When this happens, they can help meet our local bitumen demand in the country. The excess in their production can then be exported to other countries to further strengthen our economy.”

He commended NBRRI for carrying out qualitative research to improve the quality of infrastructure, adding: “I am happy that NBBRI has already carried out research and development efforts towards achieving fully paved roads using locally sourced bitumen. Though the trials are ongoing, the interim results are promising as bitumen samples collected locally are suitable for road construction based on comparison with international standards”.

On improving socio-economic fortunes of Nigerians, Onu said “I am happy that NBRRI through its research and innovation is working very hard to save foreign exchange earnings and encourage job creation, through the use of locally available raw materials.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of state for Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi called on professionals and experts in the building and construction industry, to use the opportunities offered by the Presidential Executive Order 5 to support its full implementation.

He implored professionals especially in the construction industry, to study the contents of the Executive Order 5, as it will aid the desired change in creating an innovative driven economy as envisioned by the Muhammadu Buhari Administration.

Abdullahi further encouraged stakeholders to continue in their support for NBRRI in their strive to developing appropriate technologies that would address housing/ infrastructural challenges in the country.

He said: “This conference is apt and envisaged to expose stakeholders to the latest trends in the building sector that could reduce the dangers associated with erosion, building collapse and persistent flooding as experienced in recent times. “

The Minister commended the management team of the Institute for their zeal and determination, which they displayed in the actualisation of the Institute’s mandates, further adding that their various research outputs, have imparted favourably towards sustainable housing in the country.

He further called on all participants to see the platform as a good means of learning and contributing intellectually to the betterment of Nigeria.

Earlier, the chairman of the NBRRI governing board, Hon. Williams Wadni, said that Nigerian construction industry has been identified as one of the fastest growing in the world harping on the need for repositioning the sector to compete and carry out global best practices.

In a remark, the Chairman, House of Representatives Chairman on Research Institutes, Mr. Olaide Akinremi said that the challenge of infrastructure is being addressed by the government.

He hailed the efforts of the Institute in addressing the infrastructural deficit in the country, further pledging that his committee will give full support to infrastructure development in the country.Earlier the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan said the theme of the conference was apt, especially at a time of growing global concerns on the issue of circular economy, resource utilisation and smart cities development.

He urged participants at the conference to give in their all in regards to research and development outputs and results.

Also in a goodwill message, the Senate Committee Chairperson on Science and Technology, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, said that joint and concentrated efforts of critical stakeholders in the construction industry, will further propel the nation’s GDP.

She called for more participation from the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in developing and commercialising research findings of the Institute.

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