By Rabi Momoh
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has called on the private sector to take advantage of the abundant deposit of bitumen in the country and invest to more to meet local demand and increase export.
Dr. Onu made the call when he declared open the 10th International Conference of the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBBRI) in Abuja.
According to the Minister, Nigeria has an estimated 42 billion barrels of Bitumen reserves, adding that a whopping 43 industrial chemicals including heavy crude petroleum could be obtained from bitumen.
Dr. Onu 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”.
He further hailed the strides achieved by the Institute, in carrying out qualitative research to improve the quality of infrastructure.
“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”. He said
The Minister of state Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi urged the professionals especially those in the construction industry, to study the contents of the Executive Order 5, to achieve the desired goal of creating an innovative driven economy as envisioned by President Muhammadu.
He maintained that NBRRI’s past conferences had impacted positively on Nigerians especially the building industry by creating awareness on latest technologies in the industry.
In his words, “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
Barrister Abdullahi also commended the management team of the Institute for their zeal and determination, which they displayed in the actualisation of the Institute’s mandates, as their various research outputs, have impacted favourably towards sustainable housing in the country.
Earlier, the chairman of the NBRRI governing board, Mr. Williams Wadni, who said the Nigerian construction industry was one of the fastest growing in the world, stressed the need for the repositioning of the sector to compete globally.