The Polystyrene Industries Limited is a private company that specialised in the use of polystyrene to build edifices and other earthworks, without using blocks. SOLOMON AYADO who visited the factory in Abuja, reports that the structural application is a cost effective engineering solution that requires government attention to enhance local production.
Perhaps Polystyrene Industries Limited is the most popular company that builds and construct earthworks and structures without using blocks, not only in Abuja, but the whole of Nigeria. Situated at Plot 416 in Idu industrial layout Abuja, the company has existed for more than fourteen years.
The company started with few staff but now has in its employ over 300 personnel with a mega branch in Lagos and other parts of the country.
The uniqueness of the outfit is that it is an indigenous privately owned limited liability company incorporated. It produces high quality polystyrene and galvanized wire panels as well as other accessories for building and construction industries in Nigeria.
The location of the company can conceal the magic it performs unless one is verily enlightened about its activities. Taking a mere look at the company, structure, one can be quick to undermine its magical construction applications but to beat any imagination; it deals in interior and exterior decorative products of all sorts. A constructed building with polystyrene is adequately conducive and does not need an air conditioner to enhance its cooling. There is also a solar system that goes with it.
It was gathered that the company was formerly the manufacturing arm of Cubic contractors limited which was conceived from the need to address the largely unmet demand for cheaper housing that exists around the country for both private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy.
It was further learnt that the company’s existing plant which has been in operation since January 2002, has a capacity to produce 200,000sqm of panels per annum on a single shift. Polystyrene is derived from styrene monomer and expanded to form a cellular structure which is used as an insulation material in buildings.
There is a common notion that seeing is believing but what the eyes can see when a visit is paid to this great construction company can beat the imagination of any first comer to the place. But the decorative product is exactly what is visible as soon as one enters the construction site in Idu industrial estate.
The Idu community accommodates virtually all the well known companies in Nigeria. The polystyrene company shares border with Julius Berger Construction Company and it is also located not far from the Coca-cola depot in Abuja. The popular Idu railway station is also situated within the area.
From the entry of the company, one wouldn’t notice the creativity that goes on in the place on a daily basis; One would not quickly get to know the existence of such a big company that built most of the well admired edifice, without blocks, until when you are being conducted round the place.
The fact is that many people believe that such wonder structural applications cannot be constructed in Nigeria and that only foreigners can venture into it. But far from it. Many would wonder why such modern decorative designs would take place in such a serene place like that.
The company offer varied construction applications including retaining walls, parking structures, building foundations, berms, erosion embankments and landscapes. Others include green roofs, levees, dikes, utility protection and compressible inclusion.
Among many buildings the Polystyrene Company Limited has done include the Obudu Cattle ranch presidential village, some estates, hotels in Abuja and Lagos as well as Calabar among others.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Hamza Atta said the aim is to reduce the cost of building construction for the teeming populace so that the less privileged in the society can equally afford decent accommodation. This is even as to making preservative materials for farmers to reduce waste of agricultural produce especially perishable items.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, Atta said the mission is also to harness home grown talents in construction and decorative sectors. He said he started the company with the sum of $5m with few staff.
“I actually started the company in 1999 when the administration of Olesegun Obasanjo was committed to improving housing. We went round looking for a partner who would have a product that will be peculiar to addressing the challenges that the people were facing. That is, lack of infrastructure and equipment that would be easy to handle in order to engage the teeming unemployed youths.
“We have invested in it since about fourteen years ago and I started with $5m but we got in touch with some Nigerians to invest in it and our products make life easier. We have foreign Italian partners who gave us technical knowhow. We started with staff strength of 88 but now we have over 100’.” he stated.
According to Atta, the company acquires all its raw materials locally in Nigeria “but unfortunately we have the challenge of importing the ESP bid which is a bye product of petrol chemical industry and it is very costly. We import the bids from Germany and Europe.So we have challenges of importation cost and the cost of transporting some of the materials from Lagos to Abuja. Secondly because there is no power in the industrial estate, we run generator strictly and you know the cost of running diesel.”
Atta who has been the brain behind the birth and development of the company said, “we are having problems with distribution of products because the company produces the materials in bulk and where to store them is a problem. We intend to have distribution offices in the 36 states in the country, as well as in Ghana, Guinea and other countries.”
On the process of production, the MD said “we use the imported ESP bid and we expand it before sending it to the Silo for cooling and after it gets dried, it is sent to the block molding machine and to the shaping machine which makes the shapes of the materials that are used for POP, walls and others. We also use the bid to make fish boxes, containers for transporting vegetables, tomatoes and to preserve fruits. We also make ice boxes that last for two days and it is very hygienic. We make medical vaccines boxes and seedling drays.’
He explained that making the materials for building, Atta said the company does not use blocks in building but uses the ESP and wires which are drafted mechanically into the 3G cutting machines that is programmed to form stairs and walls of buildings. We can actually build 500 houses in five days but what consumes time is the manual plastering. But it is efficient as only 2cm of cement is used and walls are bullet proofs, fire retardant and are permanent.”
Appealing to the federal government to provide power in the industrial layout, Atta pleaded that the federal ministry of agriculture and environment, as well as trade and industry to partner with the company to enhance local production of the materials
Amina Deribe, Head of technical unit in the company, and told LEADERSHIP that “many estates developers are no longer building with blocks, they use polystyrene. Most of the five star storey buildings you see in the city are our handwork. It is very efficient.”
Ekeme Otemeata is an Architect in the company who said the polystyrene has been in existence for over fifty years but that many people have not known it in the country.
“Basically what we do here is to take designs from our clients who want their buildings construction with polystyrene. We interprets the designs to suit our customers desire and then, hand over to our engineers who proceed with the magic and come out the edifices,” she said.
Head of marketing, Zakari Jimeta however insisted that the polystyrene makes a house stronger, more reliable, efficient and decorative and seek awareness of the people to patronage its construction works.
At the moment, any visit to the Polysteryne Industries Limited to see their decorative and construction magical deliveries would marvel anyone. There is the need for patronage and government should direct pointers to harnessing the products of the company to enhance local production of materials and provide jobs for the unemployed youths.