Dangote Cement Plc denies insinuations from some quarters that its factories are producing low grade cement for the Nigerian market
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
IN ITS bid to ensure a steady supply of cement in Nigeria, Dangote Cement PLC has commissioned a new 72,000 bag capacity cement depot in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State. Akin Adesokan, regional director, Dangote Cement, said that the firm would ensure constant supply of the product to ease transportation problems. He said that with the commissioning, the firm was delivering on its main objective of bringing its product nearer to the people. “We will ensure that the depot is always stocked with cement. We are ensuring that Nigerians have access to the major component in building, which is cement. We are ensuring that houses in Nigeria stand strong. We are ensuring that Nigerians have the ability to build their personal houses” he said.
The depot was built by Jimmy Azeez Enterprise, one of Dangote Cement’s major distributors. The facilities will also be managed by the firm. Adesokan described the collaboration with Jimmy Azeez as another milestone in the mutually-beneficial business relationship with the distributors.
In another development, Dangote Group has distanced itself from the raging controversy that cement sold in Nigeria are of the 32.5 grade that can only be used for plastering, culvert and other low level construction work. The company said it is within the realm of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to fish out those manufacturing and selling 32.5 grade and ensure that only the prescribed standard cement is sold in Nigeria. The group added that it is only the regulator that can spot the difference as there are no physical features to determine the grade except through laboratory test.
Dangote Cement Plc pointedly dissociated itself from the companies producing 32.5 grade cement in the country. The company explained that it produces only the 42.5 grade of cement in its three plants at Ibeshe, Gboko and Obajana. Ekanem Etim, director of sales and marketing, Dangote Group, who made the clarifications called on SON to enforce the regulation that only cement that meets the 42.5 grade is manufactured or imported into the country. He noted that before now when cement was largely imported, SON had insisted that only 42.5 grade of cement should be allowed into Nigeria and wondered why upon domestication of production, the same regulation should not be applied.
Similarly, the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, CMAN, had distanced its members from the recent claim that poor cement quality is responsible for the growing wave of building collapse in the country. The CMAN comprises Ashaka Cement Plc, Lafarge WAPCO Plc, Northern Cement Company of Nigeria, Sokoto and United Cement Company Plc, Calabar. In a statement, the manufacturers said, “The Nigerian cement industry is one of the most modern in Africa with significant new technology and capacity recently installed. Cement quality conforms to the highest international standards and the industry is constantly working with the regulatory authorities (Standards Organisation of Nigeria) to ensure up-to-date testing, certification of products and quality norms,” it said, adding that the cement industry in Nigeria was committed to the sustainability of construction and we share public concern regarding the menace of building collapse.
Commenting on the possible cause of building collapse, the manufacturers said experience throughout the world has shown very clearly that cement quality is not the source of building collapse. Rather, the root cause is most frequently related to poor construction practices. The level of skill, education and awareness in the construction sector must be improved. According to them, some of the past and on-going efforts of the cement manufacturers to address the issue include, developing several initiatives such the national symposium on building collapse to bring stakeholders together to create awareness. “There have also been several programmes in conjunction with the SON to educate and certify block makers and masons. We are committed to organising even more education and awareness in this area and have recently participated with the ministry of works to pursue this initiative.”
But other cement manufacturers that are not under CMAN had said that there should be no limitation on cement products in the market place as the 32.5 grade has been part of building in Nigeria for 54 years. “We believe fundamentally that consumers should have a choice of products to suit their needs and applications. Current and future standards should continue to ensure that there is a good environment for choice, competition and quality. It is a fact that in the last few years, there has been more innovation and product choice, which have actually generated price reductions for end users. It has been suggested that cement products should be limited and some removed from the market. Products such as 32.5 have actually been part of building in Nigeria for the last 54 years and are used widely throughout the world. Limiting product choices will not be good for the consumer and will send the industry backwards and away from current international trend,” the manufacturers said.