Housing crisis: NBRRI proposes alternative to cement

In a bid to assist the Nigeria government in addressing the housing challenges in the country, NBRRI is currently proposing an alternative to cement, an essential ingredient in construction.

This is sequel to the sky-rocketing price of cement in the country which has made affordable home practically beyond the reach of an average worker in Nigeria.

The reality of the Nigeria situation tend to show that even workers within a pair bracket of between 100,000 -100,000+ monthly income cannot own a home of their own because of the exuberant prices in the prices of building material.

To address this crisis steadfastly, the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) says it is ready to provide an alternative to cement in the country with the establishment of two Pozzolona plants in Ogun and Plateau states.

The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Samson Duna disclosed this on Tuesday at the 10th NBRRI International Conference series with the theme: Circular Economy in the Built Environment for Enhanced Performance of the Nigerian Construction Industry holding in Abuja.

Prof. Dunu said NBRRI is worried about the rising price of cement in the country and had done a lot in terms of providing alternative building materials to cement, hence the plan to float two plants for alternative cement (Posolana) in Ota, Ogun state, and Bokos in Plateau state soon.

He noted that the price of cement has been on the rise because cement has no alternative, saying that if there is an alternative; people would have shifted from independence on cement. He said, ‘‘NBRRI has done a lot in terms of alternative building materials to cement. The price of cement has risen from N2,500 to almost N4,000. Why the increase in the cost of cement? because cement has no alternative. If there is alternative people would have shifted from independence on cement.

‘‘Today, NBRRI has come with an alternative. The alternative is called a Posolana. It is produced from natural and agricultural wastes and converts to Pozzolana. Pozzolana is basically a material that is cementitious. In the presence of light, it acts like cement. You cannot use it 100 percent the way it is but you can add cement as a complimentary. It supplements each other.’’

‘‘Where you are expected to use 100 bags of cement, you end up using 70 bags of cement and 30of Pozzolana. NBRRI has come up with two Pozzolana plants in Ota, Ogun State which uses agricultural wastes, and Bokos in Plateau state which uses volcanic ash.

‘‘So, over dependency is what is making the price of cement go high. If there is an alternative, the price of cement will crash. I want to assure you NBRRI is working towards that. And very soon, the society will witness the presence of NBRRI Posolana cement’’, he added.

At the conference, the DG said the focus would be on the discussion on NBRRI research findings with a view to approving them for commercialization.

‘‘What we intend to do today is to receive papers; speakers will come and talk on research done by NBRRI, as a research institute. These are what we have carried out as researches based on our own mandate and this is a forum where we intend to discuss and if it is accepted here, which is acceptable to all it will be like a material that has come to stay. ‘‘We have a lot of papers to present. The paper I will present will be a focus on all the waste used in NIBBRI as research findings,’’ said Prof. Dunu.

In his speech, the Supervising Minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu lamented the absence of alternative sources of building materials to cement, saying that Nigeria spends so much on the importation of bitumen for our roads.

With the reduction in foreign exchange earnings for the nation, due to the drop in crude oil in the international market, the Minister called for the provision of alternative sources of bitumen as well as to encourage the use of concrete in road construction.

‘‘I am happy NBRRI has already carried out research and development efforts towards achieving fully paved roads using locally sourced bitumen. Though, some of 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.

‘‘Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world. Nigeria’s bitumen deposit covers Edo, Ogun, Ondo, 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 called on the private sector to invest in local bitumen production, urging that all necessary incentives should be provided for this to happen ‘‘We cannot have huge 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 currently import 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 said.