By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
The Federal Government has urged engineers to apply technological advancement and dynamism in the construction industry that required harnessing local products.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, made the call on Thursday at the 6th Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Giri branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is “Prospects of Natural Fibres as Viable Local Materials for Building Infrastructures (Bamboo and Fanpalm as case studies).”
Represented by Mr Solomon Labafilo, Director, Public Buildings and Housing Departments, Fashola said the subject matter was important considering the recent inauguration of the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council for the full implementation of the Presidential Executive Order No. 5.
He said the council was established to ensure Planning and Execution of Nigerian Content in Contracts, Science, Engineering and Technology in the country’s desire to improve and expand indigenous capacity.
He observed that the construction industry was confronted with high cost of building materials due to high dependency on imported materials for construction activities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic also created severe economic consequences all over the world, Nigeria not an exception.
“I wish to enjoin the NSE to look inward and position itself in playing a pivotal role in the development of Nigeria by being in tune with technological advancements, competition and dynamism in the construction industry.
“One of the objectives of the economic sustainability plan of the government is to promote the manufacturing and local production at all levels and advocate the use of Made-in-Nigerian goods and services as a way of creating job opportunities.
“This will help achieve sufficiency in critical sectors of our economy and curbing unnecessary demand for foreign exchange,” he said.
He added that the ministry was committed to promoting local content, hence the use of local building materials in the on-going National Housing Programme in 34 states and the FCT.
He reiterated that the country was endowed with numerous natural resources that could be harnessed for construction locally.
Fashola assured the NSE branch of collaboration to advance the sector.
President of the NSE, Babagana Mohammed urged young engineers to get involved in innovative research in engineering to address issues of construction in the country.
Mohammed said that young people should change their mentality toward the profession adding that there was no room for scavenging.
Dr Taiwo Audu, the keynote speaker and a lecturer at the Civil Engineering Department, University of Abuja, said economic burden due to high cost of imported building materials necessitated possible locally available substitutes.
Audu described fibres as hair-like materials that are continous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces which are similar to thread.
He, however, said that the fear for using fibres in building was the uncertainty of its durability.
According to him, 20 million tons of bamboo is often collected in rural areas by local people which plays an important role in the local economy.
Audu also said that bamboo could be used in construction, for furniture, food, biofuel, fabrics, paper, pulp, charcoal, ornamental garden planting, among others.
He added that if alternative natural fibres would be deployed into building, all aspects of engineering needed to work in synergy.
Mr Abdulrahman Mohammed, Chairman, Giri NSE branch, called on other arms of engineering to join forces with the NSE to build a formidable sector.
Also, Prof. Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, said there was need for the society branch to collaborate with the academia, especially the university to mentor young engineers.
Represented by Dr Kafeyat Adeyemi, Director, Energy Research Centre, Na’Allah said by mentoring young engineers and engaging in innovative engineering, it would improve the ranking of the institution.
The event featured presentation of awards to notable members of the society and individuals who had contributed to the growth of the society’s branch. (NAN)