Housing stock importation: Experts ask construction stakeholders to source materials locally

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By Dotun Akintomide

To address the growing housing needs among Nigerians, construction stakeholders in the built environment must begin to source for quality building materials locally, as against the importation of over 60% of the nation’s housing stock from overseas, experts have said.

Nigerian NewsDirect gathered from construction experts who spoke at the just concluded Lagos International Housing Fair that since construction materials alone constitute over 70% of the total cost of housing delivery, it is expected that any attempt to reduce materials’ cost will directly impact on the cost of project delivery positively, thereby solving the problems of housing and other infrastructure deficits the among populace.

The Director General, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Prof. Danladi Slim Matawal, represented by Engr. (Dr) Nureen Sulaimon while speaking during the technology session with the theme: “the values of utilizing locally sourced building materials” said it is generally expected that locally sourced materials and the technologies for its application will not only be more climatically and environmentally suited to the particular locality, but also cheaper and more affordable.

“It is in the light of this that there has been a call to look inwards in the sourcing of materials, especially those for construction, used in the country,” he said.

According to him, experts at NBRRI International Conference on Housing Summit in 2014 had estimated that Nigeria requires about 850,000 housing units annually for the next 20 years to solve her housing needs, a deficit estimated at 17 million units (though often disputed as an understatement).

“It was estimated that about N120 trillion is required to fund this housing deficit. In response to this challenge, some individuals and organizations have ventured into the development of locally sourced materials and technologies for construction purposes, but their effort currently is limited to the housing needs of the country,” he stated.

Matawal said the NBRRI as an establishment of the federal government since 1978, saddled with the responsibility of conducting integrated research and development in the broad areas of building and road “has made significant achievements by pioneering the development of various local construction materials and the equipment required for their use.”

He listed the materials and equipment developed so far to include: improved sun-dried bricks; cement stabilized bricks/block; interlocking laterite blocks; burnt clay blocks; clay roofing tiles; NBRRI brick/block making machine among other materials/equipment.

He attributed the slow operations at the local materials manufacturing sector to inadequate production; continuous importation of foreign materials; lack of standards and awareness on the part of construction stakeholders which he lamented is the bane of progress in achieving the maximum utilization of locally sourced materials.

Speaking on how to achieve speed in the delivery of mass housing, Engr. Dehinde Boye who represented the Managing Director, Ogun State, Property Investment Corporation (OPIC) said the use of cement blocks in the preparation of building carcass has become outdated, hence the need for the use of a formed wall – A method of pouring concrete with reinforcement into a mould (formed wall).

“This will bring about cost efficiency, quality delivery and equally save time, thereby enabling a fast-track delivery on mass housing projects. That’s the method OPIC has adopted for fast completion of its housing estates in Ogun and it has delivered good results,” Boye said.