Major cement manufacturers have pledged their commitment to align with the House Representatives position that the 42.5mpa cement grade should be the minimum standard of quality that should be produced in the country, while all expired ones be withdrawn forthwith from the market.
Already, cement manufacturing companies such as Bua, Ibeto and Dangote said long before the quality review by the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) which pegged the 42.5 grade as being for general purpose use, they have been producing the quality grade and nursed no intention to produce lower quality cement.
It would be recalled that Hon Dogara’s ad-hoc Committee on Cement Composition and pigmentation had after a public hearing from stakeholders submitted its report to the House of Representatives, in which it asked the SON to commence implementation of its cement standardization and that manufacturers should retool their machineries for the production of the higher grade of cement.
Its recommendation according to the report was based on the fact that if offered the chance of choosing between 32.5 and 42.5 grades of cement, consumers would choose the 42.5 higher grade and that because those employed for building structures are mostly non-professionals it would be in the national interest to adopt a cement grade that is less susceptible to wrong application.
Also the Committee submitted that any cement manufacturer or distributor implicated in the sale of expired cement must be maximally sanctioned to ensure that sanity prevails in the nation’s cement manufacturing and construction industry.
Chairman of Bua Cement, Abdulsamad Rabiu said after a meeting in Lagos that what the House of Reps has done was a patriotic one that should be supported by all manufacturers with the safety and well-being of the people at heart.
According to him, Bua which operates the oldest cement plant in Nigeria, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN) has been producing the higher grade of cement right from the outset and that his company sees nothing wrong with the Reps decision.
“As a responsible corporate entity, with the interest of the nation and its people at heart, we value the lives of our people more than profit, and therefore supports our lawmakers”
He explained that what cement manufacturers and indeed other stakeholders should do is to cooperate with the SON as the regulating authority so that the menace of structure failures could abate.
Rabiu stated; the BUA Cement brand is different from others because it is of 42.5 and 52.5 texture grade. This is the highest quality texture which mixes and dries easily. Most companies import lower quality. Our prices are also competitive within the industry and our delivery process is excellent.
In its own reaction, the management of Dangote Cement said it was poised to giving all necessary support to government and its agencies to succeed in the bid to stem the spate of building collapse through production of quality cement that can stand the test of time.
Its Group Managing Director, Devakumar Edwin explained that Dangote Cement has never produced a lower grade of cement and that the quality review by SON, which was also affirmed by the federal lawmakers who investigated the disturbing menace of structure failures only confirmed its long held view that Nigerians deserve the best quality of cement.
Corroborating the lawmakers, Edwin stated that the 42.5 grade of cement as the minimum standard to be produced is the best for the country, given that most builders are non-professionals who knew little or nothing about the right application of cement as a key component of construction.
Said he: “I say this because, with the strength of the 42.5, it will be less susceptible to wrong application and therefore saves the people the hassles of how best to apply cement. Anything contrary to promotion of 42.5 as the better grade by any manufacturer could only be motivated by profit.
“As for us in Dangote Cement, we have the understanding that the new standard which prescribes the production and use of the 52.5 grade of cement for the construction of bridges; the 42.5 grade for the casting of columns, slabs and moulding of blocks and other construction works is in line with the current prevailing international standards to which we pledge our full support.
“As a responsible and patriotic corporate citizen with the interest of Nigerians as our primary concern, we state our unreserved support for the new cement standards especially as this will help to further improve safety in the Nigerian building and construction industry.”
A major cement distributor and leader of Cement distributors in Lagos, Kingsley Jaja commended the House Representatives for its intervention in the unsavory situation in the construction industry, saying his members were particularly happy with the stand of the lawmakers especially on the need for withdrawal of expired cement and punishment for any manufacturer implicated in the unwholesome practice.
“In Nigeria, consumers enjoy no protection and the position of the federal lawmakers is a form of protection for the consumers in the building industry against unscrupulous manufacturers of cement. All over the world, defective products are withdrawn from the market, just as we see automobile manufacturers recalling defective vehicles no matter the number of them already in the market”, he stated.