Prices of cement-based building materials skyrocket
Dreams of lower construction costs by many prospective homeowners have once again become a nightmare, going by fresh increases in the prices of cement-based products effected recently by the manufacturers.
The prices of cement were recently reduced by Dangote Cement Plc, a leading producer of cement in the country by approximately 40 per cent. The move by the market leader slashed cement prices from about N2, 000 or N1, 850 to a price as low as N1, 350 or N1, 400 and N1000 per 50 kilogram bag.
However, the situation has drastically changed in the second quarter of 2016, as there has been undulating increase in price since the month of May according to The Guardian market research. In locations such as; Egbeda, Igando, Ogba, Agege, Sango, and Ikeja in Lagos area, a bag of cement now sells between N1, 550, N1, 600, N1, 700, N1, 800 and N2, 000 across all brands.
The new prices have further slowed down housing construction, real estate activities and increased the prices of other building materials component. For instance, manufacturers of cement-based materials, such as ceiling boards, roofing sheets and concrete products like paving stones, have hiked their prices in reaction to the development.
Speaking on the development, the Chairman of Association of Lagos State Block and Concrete Makers/Cement Dealers (LABCOMA), Agege Local Government Zone, Pastor Timothy Ayo’ola said the increase in the price of cement started about a month now.
He said as at April 2016, the product was sold for N1, 350 but as at June, the association learnt that Dangote and Lafarge have increased the price to N1, 500, later to N1, 550 from the factory and subsequently the product is been sold for N1, 600 at retail sales points.
“A tonne of cement is now sold for N31, 000 from the factory. We learnt that it is because of the downturn in the economy that pushed up the price coupled with the issues of increase in prices of petrol and in virtually everything in the market. Additionally, the challenge in accessing dollar/increase in rate of dollar to Naira also contributed”.
He said the cost of transportation and off-loading the products significantly contributed to the hike in prices as the transporters from the factory increased by N50 on each bag conveyed to the retailers.
“Ever since the hike in price, cement sells has plummeted, people are still building houses but it’s unlike when the price was very low. When the price was still low one buyer may request for 100 bags, 200 bags, 500 bags and we would supply them, but now, demands is between 20 bags, 50 bags, 30 bags respectively. We are only hoping that Dangote and the government would reduce the price and that government should release more monies to circulation, so that we might experience in sales.
“The prices of blocks have been affected too, before we sell six inches block for N130, now goes for N140, and nine inches at N150, N160, N170, N180 ”.
Ayo’Ola pointed out that it will only take the fear of God for builders and construction experts to ensure that standards such as the required quantities of ingredients for moulding houses are maintained, hence the possibility of occurrences of more collapse building when standard are not maintained.
However, he said the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) are planning a workshop for representatives across local government areas of the state on fashioning out the number of blocks to mould out of a bag of cement.
“Initially, we agreed that between 30 and 35 blocks should be mould from one bag of cement for the nine inches sized block, for the six inches, it must not be more than 50 blocks per one bag of cement.”
He observed that the cases of the building collapse could also be attributed to the nuisance of Omo-oni-ile who usually sells land for more than one or even five people, which usually bring up rivalries and diabolical manifestations by contending parties on such lands. He said building engineers must ensure that foundations of buildings to be constructed are rock-solid to prevent possible building collapse.
Contributing, a cement marketer along Unity Road, Ikeja, Mr. Sunday Ilesanmi said he buys a bag of cement at the rate of N1, 580 from the distributor then add the cost of transportation and off-loading and sell it, at the rate of N1, 700 to the public.
“Within the last two-month, there was an increase in the price by N100.The increase was effected at three different times; starting from the rate of N1, 600, to N1, 650, and to N1, 700 and so we sold at N1, 700 for us to make profit. Our distributor complained about fuel and increase in the price of diesel. Initially, the lorry that do convey cement charges N8, 000 for 100 bags but now, they charge N10, 000”, he said.
Ilesanmi who deals in the Dangote brand of the product, appealed to government to bring down the price as the sole regulator of the economy, so that people who have abandoned their projects as a result of hike in the price of cement could continue and so there would be more money in circulation.
Also speaking with The Guardian another marketer of Elephant Cement, Mr. Onas Moses recalled that when President Muhmmadu Buhari assumed office, the price of cement dropped drastically to N1, 350 but one year after, the price increased up-to N2, 000 per bag.
“I don’t really understand the situation. The price of Elephant brand of cement was increased from N1, 350 to N1, 500 and now we are selling it at the rate of N1, 700 and N1, 800 per bag. The same price applies to Dangote brand too, because immediately Dangote increases its prices, Elephant also increase their prices,” he said.
To the Chairman, Utility Building Association, Ikeja branch, Alhaji Walizi Awojide, the increase in price portends danger for building construction because there would be likelihood of construction engineers’ stage-managing the quality of cement for building, which may lead to more cases of building collapse in the future. He urged government to take a second look at the price of cement so that it would be too costly for Nigerians to build and own their houses.