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Hardship in Nigeria: Bamboo good alternative to costly iron rods -Experts

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As Nigerians grapple with economic hardship resulting in high costs of living and increasing prices of food and building materials, it is pertinent to find alternative ways such as replacing iron rods with bamboo poles for construction.

For civil engineers, estate agents, and house owners, finding means to erect quality structures without breaking banks is the priority in this period.

For buildings, iron rods are used to create rigidity and firmness for reinforcements or pillars, and as such bamboo, a woody plant with hollow stems in the grass family can fill in. It is always used for scaffolding in tall buildings replacing steel irons merged together with screws.

The prices of iron rods as integral parts of building materials have gone up, and as part of the survival instincts of Nigerians, they find bamboo as a substitute.

While the price of one iron rod goes between N10,000 to N30,000 depending on the thickness and length, only N1,500 to N2,000 will get a bamboo pole as a replacement for the same purpose.

Findings on the capacity of bamboo
In his exposition, Dr Efe Ikponmwosa, a senior lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Lagos, said that some research works had revealed that local materials that co. could be used as substitutes either for reinforcements in concrete structures.

He said, “We have done lots of work on bamboo and I can assure you today that I can build a house in such a way that I can use bamboo as my reinforcement instead of iron rods for all my beams.”

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Dr Ikponmwosa, however, said, “We have also investigated the use of the same bamboo reinforcement for columns (pillars), although investigation has revealed that for very critical constructions like multi-storey buildings, it is not advisable to use bamboo in the columns.”

He stated, “For the so-called low-cost housing schemes, especially those that are outside the central business districts; may be rural communities and outskirts of town where bamboos are readily available, you can use bamboo as reinforcing bars in your beams.

“We have tested it and we know that up to about four metres of beam can be handled with bamboo. What it means is that I can construct all my beams in a three-bedroom low-cost house without using reinforcing bars, rather, I will use treated bamboo, dried, well seasoned, mature bamboo,” he stated.

Using bamboo for economic reasons
It is frustrating that with the situation in Nigeria, some people are abandoning their building projects, waiting for when prices of materials will go down, while most frustrated ones are selling off their uncompleted properties to interested buyers.

Meanwhile, the alternative to solve this is using conventional means by replacing iron rods with bamboo.

It was discovered that home construction engineers now use bamboo, laced with construction wires to cast decking and pillars of buildings.

In another interview on the matter, a building engineer, Mr Andrew Asaga, said iron rods of 12mm, 16mm, 20mm, 25mm, 10mm, or 8mm are recommended for building apartments depending on the strength of the material and the designs specified.

Asaga said, “Bamboo can also do the job of iron rods to an extent. Some persons now use only bamboo for the pillars. Some mix bamboo with iron rods for the decking to save cost. Others now use only bamboo for decking.”

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About the prices, he said, “An iron rod costs between N10,000 to N30,000 depending on the size. This was twice the price it was sold for last year.

“A few weeks ago, a client who wanted to build a bungalow asked that I use bamboo mixed with iron rods to build the pillars because the cost of iron rods has increased.”

Lamenting on the cost of the building materials, an engineer, Mr Atanaza Godbless, said, ”Building developers are no longer making profits in the business. This is because the cost of building materials are increasing daily.

“When you make a quotation for clients today and they respond next week, you get to the market and discover that the prices of the materials you quoted have increased tremendously.

“You are left with nothing to settle with your workers. At the end you see engineers running away leaving workers unpaid. And such a person is being labelled bad. People are now settling for less alternatives to building materials. The cost of iron rods, for instance, is making people use bamboo.

Contributing to the subject, Mrs Fatimetu Momoh, a bamboo seller said the price of a piece of bamboo has also increased from N400 per bamboo to N1500.

She added, “Even used ones now go for N900 which was sold for N200. Those supplying the bamboo are complaining about logistics and levies paid on the road. This is not something we import. Or do we start importing bamboo? Something we have in our country.

“There is no business that is not frustrated in today’s economy. I pray God will save us from this horrible situation.”

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