Federal government, through Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, directs the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to begin the enforcement of the new standards of cement
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE federal government has directed the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to begin the full implementation of the new standards for cement. Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, said the federal government is committed to continuously provide the needed support and encouragement to its agencies including the SON, to ensure effective implementation of their mandates. “As the minister of industry, trade and investment, representing the federal government, I am directing the SON to commence full implementation of the cement standard in the country. Demand for quality as a right, take steps to seek redress when dissatisfied with product quality and provide classified information to regulatory agencies on suspected substandard products,” he said.
Aganga made the federal government position known at the National Stakeholders’ Forum on Blocks and Allied Products, with the theme: “Safeguarding Lives Through Compliance with Standard,” in Abuja on Thursday, September 4. He implored all professionals in the building and construction sector, including artisans and sandcrete block moulders to ensure the use of only certified materials and engage only those with requisite knowledge and skills in order to correctly apply the approved specifications in the standard.
“One key focus of standardization all over the world is continual improvement aimed at customer satisfaction and this is only attainable through the diligent implementation of specifications for products and services as prescribed in the relevant approved standards. Standards in themselves are dynamic in that they undergo reviews as necessary towards ensuring continual improvement in products quality.”
The minister noted that the event was part of quality assurance initiatives to implement the mandatory conformity assessment programme, MANCAP, for all locally manufactured products in the country. This, he said, was aimed at ensuring that they meet minimum specifications in applicable standards, are safe and would give value for money being offered to Nigerians for patronage.
Aganga added that this would also ensure consumer confidence and repeated patronage that would ultimately lead to increased capacity utilization and employment creation in line with the federal government’s transformation agenda. He said the right application of specifications in the standard would ensure optimal use of resources, right quality and durability of the moulders sandcrete blocks, thus aligning with the government’s aspiration for safe and affordable housing for all nation.
Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government of the federation, maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda was to boost the nation’s economy, reposition key sectors, empower the youths and create jobs, improve infrastructural development and the quality of lives of all citizens. He reiterated the government’s determination to drive investments into the country by ensuring that good policies and quality infrastructure are put in place to provide a conducive operating environment for investors. According to him, the present administration attaches much importance to the building and construction sector, saying it remains vital towards improving the quality of lives of Nigerians and their environment.
Joseph Odumodu, director general, SON, regretted that only five percent of the blocks sold in Nigeria are moulded to specifications of the standard, noting that this often contributes to building collapses in the country. “We did a national survey on the quality of concrete blocks in Nigeria, especially the low bearing ones and found out that only five percent of the blocks are moulded to specifications of standard of the NIS587:2007. That actually necessitated what we are doing here today, because we believe that it is important that anything that is remotely or directly contributing to building collapse in Nigeria should be addressed. What we are doing today is part of the specification process and part of it is to collaborate with the blocks and concrete moulders’ association, building collapse professional guild and other stakeholders that are involved in concrete in Nigeria.
“We are also collaborating with them on self regulatory obligation to meet above 20 per cent. SON cannot be everywhere and start policing them all about but if we have an association that regulates itself and complies with standards, then we are on our way to attaining 100 per cent. And for me, if the statistics of five per cent is improved to 20 or 30 per cent within a year, I will beat my chest and say we are making some progress,” he said.
According to Odumodu, the new cement bags unveiled by the minister have “search numbers for traceability and expiry dates, because they are chemicals and they do expire.” He maintained that SON was also concerned about storage, saying “we are also working on it as well as on the kilogramme, because if a bag of cement is 50 kg and the manufacturer puts 45 kg. content, that will compromise the strength contained in such cement and that is why we are particular about everything that has to do with standard, regarding weight, labelling, search number, manufacturing and expiry dates on the bags.
“All these must be clearly stated on the new cement bags and some manufacturers have been complying. In the next few weeks, the new cement will be all over the country. The bags also carry different colours. If it is yellow, it is 32.5 grade and it is for building and blue 42.5grade for serious construction like bridges, flyovers and the rest. We are going to be working with the blocks and concrete moulders as well as building collapse control guild in the states. We will give them the list of approved blocks for building and construction to assist them whenever they are approvals in their various states and that is part of the ways to eliminate building collapse in the country.”
On his part, Rasheed A. Adebowale, president, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria, NABMON, said the event was organised for the stakeholders to rub minds together on how to ensure standards compliant. He said in line with NABMON’s motto of “Quality is our goal”, quality and zero tolerance for using poor and substandard materials to mould blocks will ever remain topmost on the association’s agenda. He called on the government to create awareness because that would positively make the general public patronize standard and quality products instead of substandard and inferior ones.
The cement standard mandated local manufacturers to incorporate the following information on their bag of cement: CEM I 52.5R and 52.5N for use in the construction of bridges; CEM II 42.5R, 42.5N for use in the casting of columns, beams, slabs, blocks moulding; CEM I & II 32.5R, 32.5N for plastering of buildings only.