The penchant for foreign building materials by Nigerians are on the increase, recent survey by Daily Trust has shown. This is due largely to the belief that anything made in Nigeria, no matter the quality, is regarded as inferior.
Statistics obtained from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) showed that between 2010 and 2015, Nigeria spent billions on the importation of building materials.
Analysts are of the view that if the money spent in importing construction materials are injected into construction of factories and companies, reliance on imported building materials would have been curbed.
To protect building and processing industries, government prohibited exports of raw hides and skins, timber and building materials, raw palm kernels, and unprocessed rubber, yet converting them into finished products here in Nigeria for use is still a problem .
Mrs Patricia Oliver Research Development Officer of Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) told Daily Trust that Nigerians prefer the foreign building materials because of the belief that made in Nigeria building materials are inferior in quality.
But she said there are some locally produced materials like electric cables and some PVC more durable that the imported ones.
She said lack of proper information on the various types and content of building materials lead to the wrong choice of materials being purchased in the market even as she said prices of the imported materials are on the high side due to import duties taxation and not necessarily because they are far better in quality than the ones produced here.
The Executive Director, Royal Pacific Group, promoters of Fraser Suites, Abuja, Mr. M G Nasreddin, stressed the need for government to increase investment in property industry or better still support private sector investors. He believes that such opportunity will also encourage local and international private investments, thus creating wealth down the value chain, boosting the economy and complementing the effort of government in the provision of quality and affordable housing for Nigerians and employment.
Daily Trust market survey shows that the demands for foreign building materials are rising in Nigerian. Mr. Samson Odah who sells Plaster of Paris (POP) said most of his goods were imported from Egypt, and there are no Nigerian made POP and even if there is, there is no available market for sales of such product. He said buyers prefer imported building materials because of durability and quality. Despite the high cost which ranges from N3, 400- N4,500 , he said customers still prefer to buy them.
Another building materials dealer, Mr. Ezenwaka Ikechukwu who sells iron rods, wires, cements and paints, however, said he only deals in Nigerian made products because they are of high standard, good for our weather and also very affordable.
He said, "I have never sold any foreign products before, in fact my customers demand for the Nigerian made goods." He said the price range of a ton of iron rods of Nigerian made is N 40,000 cheaper than the foreign one. He claimed that Nigeria's wire for building is actually the best in the world and it is recommended by builders.
Also, a building material shop owner at jabi market who deals in pipes said most of his goods are from Turkey, Brazil and some are made in Nigeria, but noted that the foreign pipes sold faster than home made pipes because they are durable and of high standard compared to the ones we make here. He said, sometimes, customers buy the locally produced ones but come back complaining of its non durability.
He said, "Sometimes we have to mix the locally made pipes with the foreign ones in order to sell them off. Customers prefer foreign made products even if it is made here, but when you say foreign they rush to purchase it."
Miss Favour Ikeowk who deals in fibers for POP explained that people prefer foreign made fiber than Nigerian made fibers despite the price differences.
She said the Nigerian fiber are not durable compared to the foreign ones. So customers opt for the foreign products despite its high prices. According to her, the locally made ones are sold for N1000 while the foreign ones are sold for N1200 for 5kgs respectively.