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Experts seek use of local materials, artisans’ re-training



Housing experts have canvassed the use of alternative building materials that are locally sourced as a panacea to the much publicised housing deficit of about 17 million units in the country.

They argued that for the provision of low cost housing in Nigeria to be feasible, the industry must begin to look in the direction of training and re-training of artisans.

This summed up the conclusion of industry heavyweights at the just concluded Lagos Housing Fair 2016 as they lamented the dearth of skilled artisans in the country.

The president, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Mrs. Mercy Iyortyer, who chaired the ‘Materials Day’, stated that such an approach is required if Nigeria is to overcome the challenges of housing deficit in the country.

“All stakeholders have to put their heads together to ensure that we have adequate housing for the masses. We have been hearing of housing deficit for too long. How long are we going to continue to talk about it? It is high time we started addressing it and do away with the rhetorics.

“It is mainly government that can build for the masses. The private sector can only complement their effort. But there has to be a deliberate policy towards that direction. It may require just providing the basic structure and the basic finishes. But there has to be a deliberate policy to make that happen”.

The Managing Director of Bolyn Construction Limited, Elder Rufus Akinrolabu, said that artisans have an adverse attitude to change and only training can turn the situation around.

“This singular aspect has caused a draw back to the acceptability of the system of housing construction that can be achieved through the use of my machines. Everywhere and in every town, cities and villages, in Nigeria, we have ‘bricklayers’ most of whom cannot accurately or neatly lay bricks.

He said that to solve the problem, higher institutions including technical schools, polytechnics, colleges of technology and universities where there are building, architectural and civil engineering faculty should mandatorily make every final year student of each of these institutions to build a house – even if it is a room as part of their project each year of graduation.

“These graduates could learn simple bricklaying techniques that they will be able to pass on to their various societies over time. The reasons for this choice are that these are trainable and young people capable of learning; it is relevant to their studies. Secondly, we should look towards re-training of our artisans – that is masons and bricklayers – in the art of good bricklaying which can be learnt in one to two weeks”.

In addition, he added that state governors must be down to earth and ready to empower youths in their states to build with locally sourced materials. They should train and tool the youth and seek the input of experienced people like us.

Agreeing, president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Dr. Joshua Patunola-Ajayi stated that the level of local materials produced in the country would reflect directly on the cost of construction and delivery.

He explained that if the greater percentage were produced locally, from indigenous materials, it would bring down the cost of production and make it easier for the country to provide housing at cheaper price for Nigerians.

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