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Architects in Nigeria demand revised policies on cement prices

World Cement,

In Nigeria, loud cries of concern over the rise of cement prices are now coming from the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA). The Institute’s president Olatunji Bolu said in a recent statement that cement is an essential building material that cannot be compromised or effectively substituted in the local conventional construction climate. The rise in prices calls for urgent executive attention, taking a second look at the domestic cement policy.

The NIA argues that there appears to be a significant gap in the policy maker’s knowledge of the value and importance of the construction sector in the developing country’s economy.

Bolu said, “we wish to state that the cost of construction activities (which are highly dependent on cement in Nigeria) even prior to the recent hike from N1450 to N2100 were expensive enough. With this turn of events, it will not be inappropriate to say there is the distinct possibility that the price increase will be damaging to the sector.”

The consequences of these increased cement prices will be higher construction costs across the board, which will have to be paid for one way or another. There are now fears companies attempting to maintain a profitable margin will introduce cost-cutting measures, ultimately resulting in unsafe, poor quality structures, which will have less value in the long run.

In their report, the NIA examined several cases of post-construction building failure, where investigations concluded poor concrete mixes were the cause. Poor concrete mixes are not unconnected to rising cement prices, and now the NIA worries there will be more cases of buildings collapsing in the future.

Cement prices in Nigeria have fluctuated recently from N1019 to N1482 per 50 kg bag. In comparison, in India the price is N908, which is a slight increase from the 2009 price of N875. Despite the variations, it is clear that the price of cement in Nigeria has remained significantly higher than in other markets.

The NIA criticise the government for not adopting a clear position, reviewing the current importation policy and providing a level playing field for new entrants into the sector as well as the long-term players. The government could help effect stable prices, ensuring only high quality cement is produced and that essential building materials are sold locally, the statement read.

Finally, the NIA calls for an authoritative clear policy on building materials, analysing risks of unwarranted cost increases. The government should also conceive of ways to ameliorate the effects of the price hikes if they are unavoidable.

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