Nigerian Architects Lament Rising Prices of Building Materials, Express Fear of Dangerous Consequences

Nigerian Architects Lament Rising Prices of Building Materials, Express Fear of Dangerous Consequences

Sunday Okobi

Nigerian architects under the auspices of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) yesterday lamented the dangerous effect of rising prices of building materials, expressing anxiety that the anomaly will lead to usage and patronage of quacks and fake materials in the construction industry thereby jeopardising the lives and property of many Nigerians.

The organisation, therefore, implored the government to intervene speedily in stabilising the market prices, by giving incentives like tax reduction to building material manufacturers, provision of dedicated electricity supply to industrial hubs as well as stemming the spate of insecurity nationwide to help reduce cost of production.

At its press conference held at the national headquarters of the NIA in Abuja, the President of the Institute, Mrs. Mobolaji A. Adeniyi, stated that despite the intervention of the government, Nigeria is currently undergoing very difficult times and most of its citizens are experiencing real hardship in their daily lives.
According to her, “We recognise that this is a global phenomenon, the challenges are everywhere ranging from high cost of transportation, which is a direct consequence of the new price of petroleum products, a galloping inflation rate which rose from 28.92 percent in December 2023, to 29.90 percent in January 2024, within a space of only one month.

“Of these challenges, the one that mostly concerns us in the construction industry is the current rapid increase in the prices of building materials, typified by the astronomical rise in the price of Portland Cement and other materials in high demand.
“Within a period of three weeks, the price of a bag of cement has risen from N4,500 to N13,000 in some locations across our country, and in some locations, even as much as N15,000.

“This notwithstanding the fact that much of the cement used in Nigeria are actually produced locally. Reinforcement has risen to above N1 million per ton. Add this to other regular inflationary rises in other building materials and we can safely predict a definite slow-down in construction activities within the next few months. This can further lead to malpractices by unscrupulous contractors and developers, leading to more incidents of building collapse if statutory and professional oversight is not beefed up.”

The NIA chief, Adeniyi, disclosed that they engaged the Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, recently where “we emphasised the need to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in order to ensure cost reduction, availability of reinforcement and other steel products across Nigeria as well as maintaining standards. It is demoralizing to note that even nails and other accessories for building construction are not manufactured in Nigeria.
“Lives of Nigerians will face increased risk due to the increased cost of building materials. Moreover, with reduced construction activities, there may be a sharp rise in crime occasioned by an anticipated high rate of job losses across the country, especially in the unskilled labour sector.

“This is in view of the fact that the construction industry employs over 40 percent of labour. It is also worth noting that this is coming against the background of a very robust plan by the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to develop over 100,000 housing units across the country this year.
The plan even includes the establishment of building materials manufacturing hubs across Nigeria, forming part of the actionable strategies to achieve the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

She added: “The Nigerian Institute of Architects believes that this is a perfect time for deep examination of our cultural, economic, and social lifestyles. Beyond the need for price stability and improved manufacturing, we must also look inwards for the solutions that we seek.
“The circumstances today provide an unparalleled opportunity to review some of our age-old practices of excessive cement-dependent construction; a practice that has been rightly undermined by most of the contemporary opinions and scientific theses on Sustainable Architecture and Construction.

“We extend our hand of friendship to research organisations such the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and the National Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) to help us forge a new regime in construction using affordable and sustainable indigenous materials.

“We also encourage all government agencies to curb its excessive appetite for foreign goods and services. We specifically request that the ‘Presidential Executive Order for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts, and Science, Engineering and Technology, (Executive Order 5)’ which was signed into law on February 2, 2018, be dutifully implemented.

“Finally, we call on architects and other Allied Professionals in the building industry to, as a matter of urgency, prioritise the use of local materials in project design and delivery. As professionals we owe our country the onerous duty of providing solutions to seemingly daunting technical challenges. This should be our primary calling as professionals in this era of economic gloom. The challenges may seem very daunting but not insurmountable.

 “We would like to appeal to the public as well for patience and understanding in this trying times. The situation today is beyond politics and must be seen as a call to renewed patriotism. We can fix Nigeria only if we work with unity of purpose. We salute the courage of all citizens of Nigeria for their resilience and commitment to peace at this trying period. We must trust our leaders and support them to lift us from the current situation into a better place.”

Finally, the NIA boss promised that: “As architects we will remain faithful to serving you diligently and dutifully to ensure that you get the best value for your investment. We will continue to render the best professional services to our nation at all times.”

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