The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved a new policy on local production of bitumen to further diversify the nation’s economy.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), disclosed this at the end of the Council meeting which lasted for over eight hours on Wednesday.
He said the policy was approved to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate and encourage local production of bitumen in the country.
He expressed optimism that the policy, when fully operational, would enable Nigeria to save millions of dollars from the importation of bitumen, which is a raw material used in road construction, worldwide.
“The Ministry of Works and Housing presented a memorandum on the initiative of the President as to our source of bitumen which is used in road construction. “It was a policy memorandum which revealed that a significant amount of bitumen we use in road construction in Nigeria is imported, thus creating jobs abroad. We recommended to council to approve a directive to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate, and encourage the local production of bitumen.
“Essentially, that policy recommendation was approved by the council today to encourage bitumen production locally in Nigeria. “This will of course help to further diversify the economy and open another sub-sector of the extractive and hydro-carbon industry for local opportunities,’’ he said.
The minister said that “there’s a demand of 500,000 metric tonnes of bitumen locally in Nigeria per annum”. He therefore, called on the private sector to take advantage of the new policy by investing heavily in the local production of bitumen.
“We encourage those who can manufacture and produce bitumen locally to tap into this demand. “We see the opportunity for thousands of jobs to be created directly if this is done, and government intends to give encouragement and support to all those who take up this opportunity.
“We expect Kaduna Refinery to also raise its game by participating in this sub-sector of hydro-carbon industry. “We expect that it will improve the quality of bitumen that is produced and goes into our road construction; just as we are now able to control the quality of cement that goes into local construction,’’ he said.
The minister revealed that the Federal Government was also promoting the use of more cement, stones and rocks in road construction. He said: “Our ministry is now developing a design manual for rock and stone in road construction in the country.
“These are the framework of policy documentations that we presented to council today and they were approved. “So, we expect the Nigerian entrepreneurial community to now respond to all of the existing government policies for setting up businesses and embracing this policy as part of ways to develop our made-in-Nigeria capacity,’’