The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, on Tuesday, called for investment in local production of bitumen for road construction as Nigeria spends too much on importation.
Onu said this at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Nigeria Building and Road Research Institute’s (NBRRI), first virtual international conference in Abuja.
According to Onu, with the reduction in foreign exchange earnings as the prices of crude oil drop at international market, there is need to find alternative sources of bitumen.
He said this would also encourage the use of concrete in road construction.
“Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world and it 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 urged that the private sector should be brought in to invest in local bitumen production, adding that all necessary incentives should be provided for this to happen.
“We cannot have huge deposits of bitumen natural sands and yet continue to import bitumen from other countries.
“This does not make sense and should not be allowed to continue,’’ Onu said.
He noted that if people in business, who currently import bitumen into the country would consider investing in local production, this would help to boost local bitumen demand in the country.
Earlier, Mr William Wadni, Chairman, Governing Board of NBRRI, in his welcome address, said that the Nigerian construction industry was one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Wadni stressed that to maintain its impressive performance, it was imperative that the industry be repositioned to enable it compete with its contemporaries globally.
Dr Mohammed Abdullahi, Minister of State for Science and Technology, in his goodwill message, said it was impressive that the 2021 conference sought solution to eradication of waste in the building industry.
“ I hope this platform will sensitise professionals and experts in the industry on the opportunities offered by Presidential Executive Order 5 and support its full implementation,’’ Abdullahi said.
Mr Edet Akpan, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, said the conference was apt and in line with global context.
“When scientists and engineers are pulled together, the best will be achieved. A knowledge-based economy is something all must be carried along,’’ Akpan said.
The theme of the conference is: “Circular Economy in the Building Environment for Enhanced Performance of the Nigerian Construction Industry”.