Lagos — There are indications that the marine construction industry is experiencing a boom as Bitumen for the first time is leading the nation’s import chart.
The shipping position emanating from the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, showed that a total of 5.491million metric tonnes of the Petroleum bye-product was brought into the country in April.
This is the first time Bitumen is featuring in the shipping document since this year.
The importation of this large volume of bitumen is followed by fish with a total volume of 1.590million metric tonnes for April as against 2.463 million metric tonnes for March.
The third most imported item for the month of April is Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS with a total metric tonne of 803,960 metric tonnes while 339 metric tonnes in March.
Other items on the chart include Bulk wheat with 179, 059 metric tonnes, while 327,780 metric tonnes was recorded for March, General cargo and containers recorded 24,305 million metric tonnes and 5,690 units of containerized goods for April compared to 7,000 units of containers in the month of March.
Bulk malt also recorded 4,500 metric tonnes while 28 berths as at the time of filling this report were empty as no vessels were scheduled to occupy them.
For the Marine construction industry bitumen is used for hydraulic applications such as canal lining, underwater tunnels, river bank protection, dam construction, and sea defenses.
Bitumen is widely used in the construction of asphalt roads and bituminous membrane products. Bitumen is commonly used to build highways, motorways and rail networks.
Bitumen has excellent water-proofing properties and is widely used for making roofing products along with a range of other household and industrial applications, from emulsion paints to sound-proofing.
Penetration Bitumen and Bitumen Emulsions are used for the construction of railway tracks and by using special types of bitumen such as Polymer Modified Bitumen, the vibration and noise levels are reduced due to a dampening effect.
Bitumen has been proven to be effective on both high-speed railway tracks and heavy load railway tracks.
Reacting to the development, Director General of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf said that the high import of bitumen into Nigeria impacts on the foreign exchange adding that the earlier the government began to harness the exploitation of these raw materials the better for the economy.
He suggested that cement could be used for road constructions and civil engineering works as against bitumen with a view to saving forex.
He said “The thing is that we still have not demonstrated an efficient commitment to the philosophy of promoting self-reliant.
“The solid minerals area is still a challenge of which operators have been complaining about.
“The issue of bitumen is also within the solid minerals development space, so investors in that sector need to be given the right kind of support, first in terms of access to their various locations.
“Issues of regulation because they complain a lot about regulatory issues, licensing and all the bureaucracy that goes with it.
Some also complain about community issues so all these things affect those in the solid mineral sector including bitumen.
“There are also issues of funding and all of that, those may be a generic problem, they also affect this sector.
“So in other to conserve our foreign exchange, these are some of the things we should be looking at.
“Dangote too has been talking about how we can use cement for road construction, let us explore that, we are the biggest producer of cement in Africa.
“I am not sure we have cement producer in terms of domestic production there is no country that has as much as we have and we have a lot of local content in our cement.
“So it will help this economy a great deal if we can do more of our road construction using cement as that will reduce the demand for bitumen and it will help us to converse foreign exchange”.