Relief as FG, manufacturers agree on new price 

The federal government and cement manufacturers, Monday, agreed to reduce the price of the product to between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg depending on the location nationwide.

This was part of the resolution at the stakeholders’ meeting conveyed by the Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, which had the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, in attendance in Abuja.

Also, the representatives of Dangote Cement; BUA Cement, and Lafarge Cement companies were in attendance at the meeting which lasted for almost four hours.

Recall that the price of the commodity had soared to approximately N13,000 in several retail stores in the Federal Capital Territory, and major towns in the country, a development which forced the federal government to convey the stakeholders’ meeting.

Reading the communiqué, Umahi said the cement manufacturers had committed to review the price when they receive the expected remedies from the government.

To this end, he disclosed that the prices of cement products had been pegged to between 7000 and 8000 per bag depending on the location.

The minister said certain issues including smuggling, bad roads, high energy costs, and the forex crisis caused the high price but stressed that manufacturers had expressed their readiness to bring down the prices in the future.

He said: “The cement manufacturers have noted to the government that the present high cost of cement in the market is very much abnormal in some locations nationwide. Ideally, they noted that cement price, and retail price to a consumer should not cost more than between N7,000 to N8,000 per 50 kg bag of cement.

“Therefore, the government and the cement manufacturers, which are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc have agreed to have their cement price nationwide between N7,000 to N8,000 naira per 50 kg pack of cement, depending on the locations, which means that this price depends on the locations.  Going forward, the government has advised manufacturers to set up a price monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the prices that are set today.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, who collaborated with Umahi on price fixing for cement production, lamented the high rate of smuggling to the neighbouring countries.

This, she noted, was responsible for the scarcity and hike in the price of the produce and assured that the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is committed to tackling the menace.

Uzoka-Anite said: “The amount we recommended is N7000 to N8000 but we have other factors. This is the first time that manufacturers are saying they will go and manage compliance in this distribution network.

“We have issues of smuggling not just for cement, but even food across the borders and this has led to scarcity. We have engaged with the NSA who has committed to tackling this. We’ll hear from the NSA soon on this’’.

However, the manufacturers present at the meeting expressed their readiness to bring down the prices in the future as soon as the federal government interventions are fulfilled.

Speaking, the Executive Director, BUA Group, Kabir Rabiu, admitted that the high cost of cement in Neighboring countries made smuggling lucrative, saying that the cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 equivalent.

Rabiu assured that his company would bring in 6m tonnes of cement into the market to crash the price.

He said: “The high cost of cement in neighboring countries is making smuggling lucrative. The cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 equivalent there, and distributors in the North East instead smuggle products there.

“They do that not through official channels and the government is not benefiting from their export. Unless that is sorted, we’ll continue to have pressure from those markets.

“We have promised the minister that we are going to bring in 6m tonnes of cement into the market and that is going to crash the price. There is a big disparity between demand and supply in Nigeria. I think some plants have issues that have reduced production.

“We are at the peak of cement demand but supply seems less so there is going to be a crisis and that is why we are working hard to bring more products to the market to reduce the pressure of demand and supply in the market’’.