Cement Manufacturers Subjecting Nigerians to Untold Hardship—Reps

March 14, 2024
Cement Manufacturers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The House of Representatives has accused cement manufacturers in the country of subjecting Nigerians to untold hardship over their arbitrary increase in the price of the product.

The lower legislative chamber has, therefore, resolved to look into their pricing mechanism, summoning the major cement makers in the country for an explanation.

The cement firms in Nigeria were summoned on Wednesday by the green chamber of the National Assembly after the adoption of a motion moved by Gaza Gbefwi and Ademorin Kuye on “arbitrary increase in the price of cement by manufacturers of cement in Nigeria.”

They are to appear before the Committees on Solid Minerals Development, Commerce, Industry and Special Duties, which is to report back to the House after four weeks for further legislative actions.

While addressing his colleagues yesterday, Mr Gbefwi lamented that the rise in the price of cement in the country has led to an increase in rents due to a rise in the cost of building, giving many citizens sleepless nights.

He warned that if urgent action is not taken, things may get out of hand, as the price of cement has skyrocketed by over 100 per cent within three months.

Business Post reports that the price of a 50kg bag of cement, which used to sell between N4,800 and N5,200 in December 2023 and January 2024 jumped to N12,000 in February 2024, but currently sells between N9,500 and N10,500.

Mr Gbefwi said it was worrisome that while raw materials for the manufacturing of cement, including lime, silica, alumina, iron oxide, and gypsum, are all sourced locally and could not have been affected by the exchange rate crisis, the price of the product has been on the rise weekly.

The lawmaker accused cement producers of inflicting hardship on Nigerians by “capitalising on exchange rate volatility to arbitrarily increase the price of the product, whose cost of production has not changed significantly since last year.”

However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Mr Babajimi Benson, in defence of cement companies, blamed the rising cost of production for the increase in prices, noting that the price of a product is determined by some factors.

“It is either the frequent increment is caused by production cost or something else. Let us invite the manufacturers to meet with the relevant committee,” he submitted.

This argument was backed by the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Mr Sada Soli, who told his colleagues to be cautious.

“Let us understand the place of cost of production. These people bought these companies and turned them around. In most cases, they provide their power.

“Let us be complacent when we are talking about issues concerning the national economy. Let us support these people because they can withdraw their investments,” he said.

But the Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, disagreed, saying Nigerians should not be paying more for the product than their neighbours.

“Nigeria cements are a big market for Niger Republic, Cameroon and other neighbouring countries. Why should Nigerians continue to suffer from incessant increases in the price of cement?

“We have to rise and defend the common man. I think we must invite the manufacturers to tell this house what is going on because we can’t continue like this,” he said.

In his contribution, the Deputy Minority Whip, Mr George Ozodinobi, suggested the importation of cement to crash the price of the product.

“Let us open the floodgate of importation of cement into the country. This will bring down the price of the product.

“When the man from Nnewi and Chairman of the Ibeto Group, Cletus Ibeto, was allowed to bring in cement into the country, the price came down drastically but he was frustrated out of the system,” he said.

Recall that a few weeks ago, after a meeting with the Minister of Works, Mr Dave Umahi, cement producers agreed to bring down the price of the product to about N7,000.

The major cement manufacturers in the country include Dangote Cement, BUA Cement, Lafarge Africa, and Purechem, among others.

Aduragbemi Omiyale

Aduragbemi Omiyale is a journalist with Business Post Nigeria, who has passion for news writing. In her leisure time, she loves to read.

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