The Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) on Sunday complained about the increase in the price of cement from N2,600 per 50kg. bag to N3,500, saying the increase would affect the quality of products in the construction industry.
The President of NIOB, Mr Kunle Awobodu, said in a statement in Lagos that even at the N2,600-per-bag price, Nigerians still suffered from the menace of substandard constructions, adding that the price increase would worsen the situation.
“Whatever the underlying reasons given for the hike in price, the NIOB is actuated by altruism to bring the attendant or unintended consequences to the limelight, so that stakeholders can appreciate and respond to the emergency that the nation is confronted with.
“Even at previous prices, Nigerians were confronted with the challenge of owning their own homes and developing other infrastructure. Reports of ‘cutting corners’, due to compromised material inputs, abound.
“Sand Crete blocks, concrete and mortar are products in which cement is necessary to produce. These products also play a major role in the cost and strength of structures built with them.
“While we are not sanctioning ‘cutting corners’, that is, compromise on standard, the present price increase will only exacerbate an already volatile and precarious situation,’’ he said.
Awobodu called on the Federal Government to tackle the country’s infrastructure deficiency to reduce cost of production of goods and services and at the same time regulate cement prices.
“The astronomical rise in the price of cement and the low purchasing power of Nigerians promote temptations for quality compromise in construction works.
“The government should step in quickly and save the nation from imminent danger of substandard building construction,’’ he said.
The NIOB president noted that Nigeria was blessed with huge human capital resources and its population could either be a strength or a liability, depending on how the resources were harnessed.
He said that Nigeria’s high population offered a large market for investors, manufacturers and should be a reason to bring down cement prices because of the factor of large numbers in demand and supply.
Awobodu added that the hike in cement price would increase the need for more surveillance of the construction processes, adding that the chain reaction would impact on the nation’s economy and the construction industry negatively.
“Construction contracts in a regime of skyrocketing and unstable prices will witness many fluctuation claims, with the potential for disputes and project abandonment.
“A cycle of project failures may start when prices are beyond the reach of clients and developers,’’ he said.
Awobodu argued that the hike in cement prices was not justifiable because nearly all the materials needed for its production were available locally.
“We acknowledge that cement manufacturers operate in the Nigerian economy. Nigerians who use cement products also are in the same setting where macroeconomic variables of interest rate, exchange rate and inflation have diminished purchasing power.
“The onus, therefore, lies on the government to urgently address these macroeconomic issues to favour the overall economy and especially, the construction industry that has the potential to stimulate growth.
“Cement manufacturers too should take advantage of the population to crash costs, while government should further address transportation and energy concerns.
“If these price increases and other macroeconomic variables are not addressed, the vision of housing many homeless Nigerians and stimulating the nation’s infrastructural revival will remain a mirage,” he said.