By Ebele Orakpo
Professor Danladi Slim Matawal is the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. NBRRI is charged with improving the quality of life of Nigerians in the area of affordable housing and increased economic empowerment through integrated research and development, capacity-building and robust extension services.
In this chat with Vanguard Learning in Abuja recently, the professor of Civil Engineering spoke on the strides made by the institute. Excerpts:
“We have innovations in buildings and roads as well as technology application projects where the applications of these innovations are demonstrated.
Water bitumen spraying machine:
This is primarily designed for feeder roads and rural roads where you don’t need very heavy machinery.
It is also an innovation of the NBRRI. It is an engineering vehicle used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in road construction and foundations.
NBRRI Pozzolana pilot project:
Pozzolana is partial replacement of cement for affordable concrete production including affordable housing and we have successfully installed a pilot plant in Ota, Ogun State, which has already produced pozzolana. We used clay which we passed through a processing line, including incineration, crushing, nodulisation, energy impactment as well as ball-milling and a bagging process.
What we have successfully done is to install a process that people can look up to for commercial application and we are in the process of applying some of the products in order to set up national specifications.
There are also the interlocking brick-making machines. We demonstrate our products in skills acquisition centres across Nigeria. We have a laboratory that tests every material on soils, aggregates for construction, cement, bitumen and asphalt; any kind of test you want so the debate on cement will be a thing of the past. We are also into building of case studies for the benefit of Nigeria.
We have literally eliminated cases of building collapse in Nigeria except for few scattered cases which still occur but nowhere near the scale that was happening in the past.
Digitized soils map:
Basically, we have been developing soils map by states and ultimately, we will combine them to provide soils atlas for Nigeria. The essence is to provide a guide for investors, planners, government, designers and construction companies so that they can have a prior knowledge of the geophysical conditions of any terrain they are going into.
It does not replace the need for detailed investigation but you need to have an idea of the environment you are going into. We also have lots of publications. We deal in road safety, basically from the research viewpoint and we look at reasons why our roads collapse, we investigate roads and give technical reports and we have annual conference with international participation.
Working with industry: First of all, I want to say that we have made all our research findings available to industry and we are encouraging industries to come and look at our innovations and commercialise them, particularly in the build environment.
We have worked with the Council for Regulation of Engineering. We are developing a concrete mix design manual for the country to end the controversy on cement. The tests for the development of the manual are being done in NBRRI and the University of Uyo.
The two laboratories are used to support professional practice in the country. Through our yearly international conference, we make available to industry our innovations and we also invite alternative opinions and come out with a consensus as to how to forge ahead in any area of need.
So like our pozzalana plant, our machines are all available for commercialisation in order to create jobs, industrialise, generate wealth and conserve foreign exchange.
Road and bridge collapse:
Our bridges are designed for very high capacity but the problem is that the amount of load on our roads is higher than was designed. Our roads are designed for a maximum of 30 tons and vehicles as heavy as 20 tons ply them. The issue of tankers parking on the roads and bridges is a regulatory thing, the Police, Road Safety etc., are supposed to organise proper parking of tankers and utilisation of our facilities.
Other innovations are: Low-Cost ceiling boards using molasses; design and construction of palm kernel shell grinding machine; design and fabrication of gear box for use for roller compactor production;
fabrication of interlocking block-making machine with grooved moulds for conduit wiring (9″ & 6″); design and fabrication of interlocking paving stones vibrating table using plastic moulds and more. All these innovations are for commercialisation,” he said.