As the deadline for cement manufacturers to reduce the price of the product approaches, stakeholders are insisting that government should peg the price at N1,000 per bag.
From quantity surveyors, to builders and retailers of the product, they were united in their call on government to ensure that a bag of cement should not cost more than N1,000.
A distributor, Alhaji Fatai Moroof, said the right price for cement should be N1,000 per bag, that is from the street. “So it will not be enough for government to tell the manufacturers to reduce the price without insisting on the right price which should be determined by government. Anything more than N1,000 per bag would amount to profiteering on the part of the manufacturers.
The managing director of Buildwell International Company Limited, Mr Afolabi Adedeji , told LEDERSHIP that it would be difficult to get the right price for cement in the country given the various factors affecting the price regime in the country.
“The manufacturers will tell you it is not their fault. They will tell you that they bought diesel at about 150 per litre , then the middle men are there , there are task force here and there collecting tolls. But in spite of all these, as a conscientious Nigerian, I think the price of a bag of cement should not be more than N1,000 ,” he said.
A retailer, Hassan Umaru, said government must fix the price of cement and ensure that manufacturers, distributors and retailers complied with the government price. He said the price of cement was too delicate to be determined by the cement manufacturers. In his opinion, cement should sell for more than N1,000 a bag.
He appealed to government to encourage the importation of cement by reducing the current duties because the local manufacturers cannot cope with the demand.
A quantity surveyor, Mark Ukegbu, stressed that the price of cement can really stabilise at N1,000 per bag if the government tackled the problem of transportation of goods, bad roads and high cost of production. He shared the sentiment expressed by Umaru that if the government wanted to take the interim measure of flooding the country with imported cement, it must be able to wave the duty on cement importation.
A retailer, Iyabo Animasun, did not mince words in fixing the right price for cement. “Anything more than N1,000 per bag of cement would be unrealistic.” She said the issue of housing especially in big cities like Lagos was a huge problem. “If these people pushing the price of cement anyhow know what the average Lagosian who doesn’t have his own house was going through, they would have a rethink.
“I think government should make it possible for at least every Nigerian to own his own house”
Otunba Alimi Kehinde, a contractor told LEADERSHIP that the ideal price for cement should be N950 ,00 , saying there was no justification for the over 30 per cent increase in cement price after all, the concession to the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria for the so called backward integration policy. He added that the whole essence of the policy was that citizens were led to beleive that cement would cost less than N1,000 if the government gave the cement manufacturers all the concessions they asked for.
The government in the opinion of Bernard Utomwen, a builder should flood the market with imported cement which is a lot cheaper and of better quality if the manufacturers refused to reduce the price drastically.
He said: “If cement coming from Europe costs less than N700 a bag, then the local cement at factory price should not be more than N500”. Following a national outcry over the prohibitive cost of cement, President Goodluck Jonathan penultimate Monday ordered the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(CMAN) to reduce the price of the product. He however did not suggest any price.