Cement dealers worry about scarcity, marginal increase in prices
Despite the lockdown announced by President Muhammadu Buhari recently to curtail the spread of dreaded coronavirus, COVID-19 in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun state, the price of cement has witnessed a slight increase.
Before the pandemic, the price of the commodity had staggered between N 2, 500 and N2, 550 but last week it soared to as high as N2,750 depending on brand and location
The increase has already impacted on prices of cement-based products like blocks and concrete rings among others.
Although, constructions are in low ebb as a result of the lockdown, many who needed the product in the outskirts were perturbed that the price of the product has increased.
The Guardian’s investigation shows that prices of the product increased as a result of limited supply in the market in Lagos, Ogun as dealers take advantage of the prevailing situation.
For instance in Mowe and other surrounding parts of Ogun, where the movement was restricted major dealers who had the products were selling between N2550 and N2600, while retailers sold per 50-kilogram bag between N2650 and 2700.
A dealer at Pakuro, Mayowa Adigun attributed the increase to lack of supply as a result of the restriction as well as the reduction in production.
According to him, you will recall that the coronavirus affected industries like Lafarge and Dangote, who were market leaders due to the absence of expatriates working in the firms.
This led to a reduction in production coupled with the lockdown, only a few dealers who have stocked are selling.
Another major dealer at Ibafo, popularly known as Alhaji Marouf said prices will likely normalize as soon as new stocks arrived from the factories.
Also, speaking on the development, a cement distributor at Ibafo, Mr. Tunde Odeh said the marginal increase in price was temporary and will soon normalized when full activities at the factories commence.
Odeh, a distributor of the two major brands, however, lamented that sales have been low as construction works are still at low ebb except for those at the outskirts.
An Ikeja-based dealer, Mr Sunday Ilesanmi told The Guardian that a 50kilogram bag of the most popular brand sells for N2, 750.00 as against the former price of N2, 600.00 and N2, 650.00 respectively which the product was sold before the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ilesanmi blamed the situation on the coronavirus pandemic, which is shutting down the nations’ already fluctuating economy and poor patronage due to harsh financial reality globally and in Nigeria.
He observed that many construction activities, companies producing cement and housing development projects that require cement have also shut down activities to mitigate the spread of the disease in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.
“Many construction sites are already limiting their activities while others have stopped out rightly. We have been selling a 50kg of the most common brand at that price since about four weeks now and I’m sure the same situation is applicable in major markets in Nigeria, even other locations command higher prices. Sales haven’t been so encouraging and worst hit is the fact there is a holiday as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown declared by the federal government in conjunction with the Lagos State Government.”
“Government has given everyone 14 days to stay at home, we can’t open shop for sale in order not to incur the rot of government’s law enforcement agencies like the Police, Army and others who are going about to enforce the pronouncement by the government”.
He said expressed optimism that when the spread of disease is successfully contained in Nigeria, the price of cement could fall back to normal and construction work and developers would return to sites nationwide.
Another dealer based in Alagbole area, Mrs. Mercy Opaleye who lamented that they have stopped selling because the product has become scarce and expensive revealed that as at last week, a 50kg bag was sold at N2, 750 and N2, 800.00 in that location.
“Due to the economic lockdown, we don’t even have a single bag at the moment. Since on Monday, the last sold bag was at the rate of N2, 750.00. The suppliers are not allowed to move products into the market and those who still have the products became stricter with their products and decided to hike the price of their stock. So some are already taking advantage of the situation”, she said.
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