Five years is enough for President Buhari lead Government to have fixed the refineries in Nigeria. But we are still importing refined petroleum products. Five years is more than enough to have fixed the terrible roads in Nigeria. But we are still importing even the most basic raw material (Bitumen) for road construction.
Bitumen is the basic material for road construction throughout the world. The quality and quantity of the material used in road construction always play significant role in durability of the road. Nigeria presently has the second highest reserve of Asphalt (Bitumen) in the world. Spanning approximately 120 kilometer. Almost twice the crude oil reserve of the Country.
With Government focusing more on crude oil production for large chunk of it’s foreign earning. It’s high time to set in motion, a proactive process of developing this God given resources, for the benefit of the nation and It’s people. Here are some of the merits, why Nigeria must develop the Bitumen production industry.
– With well over 200,000 kilometers of roads network across the Country. And only about 60,000 paved. According to (2019) records. It’s a definite case of great economic loss to rely on importing about 80% of road construction materials in to the Country.
– Bitumen production could easily be a significant source of foreign income to Government because of less international cartels and multinational companies domination. As well as International Political Power Game in the petroleum industry. Which is less visible in the Bitumen market internationally. Spending over 2 billion Dollars annually to import Asphalt which is a derivative of Bitumen. This is a colossal waste of money that should be converted into viable economic opportunity to the nation.
– With availability of cheap labor to tap in to. As well as fair tax policy. Production cost would be less. Thereby making it easier to produce and sell internationally.
– Technological requirement for the setting up of production plant, storage, distribution, as well as tendency for vandalism and theft of the resources is far less, when compared to crude oil.
– The price of petroleum crude has remained relatively on the low. With constant search for alternative solutions, the cost may never go as high as it was in the past. The price of Bitumen on the other hand has remained around the 40-45 dollars per barrel. As such. The time for Nigeria to dominate the global Bitumen market with a reserve of 42.27 billion tones is now.
– The global Bitumen market is estimated at over 110 billion Dollars annually. Nigeria must therefore work out a detailed, sustainable, Development model, through which the nation can be able to dominate the market. To bring in additional revenue to the national treasury. This is basically by exploring a natural resources that seems to have been abandoned.
With figure of roads in need of construction on the increase. The nation has no business importing Bitumen. Just as Nigeria should not be importing refined petroleum products. A nation that depends on importing most of it’s basic Development need, will always find it difficult to attain achievable Development aspirations.