The Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) have called on the federal government to review its policy on cement in a way to make the price of the product more stable and affordable in the country.
In a statement signed by the institute’s President, Mr. Olatunji Bolu, the group said that prices of commodities rarely remained stable in Nigeria, noting, “We believe that there is a fundamental gap in policy makers knowledge base of the importance of the construction sector to the economy of a developing nation such as ours.
The statistics that explain the sectors contribution to a nation’s GDP may not be unknown to government.”
The statement added that efforts must be made on the part of government to provide a level-playing field for existing and new players in the industry. “Government must provide equal opportunities for all players and prospective new entrants into the sector, so as to positively affect stable prices and ensure only premium quality cement and allied essential building materials are sold locally.”
Bolu averred that cement costs in Nigeria are in multiples of rates available elsewhere. According to him, cement prices vary between N1,019 to N1,482 in Kenya, N908 in India, up from N875 as at July 2009.
“We expect that a definitive policy on building materials should be a priority.
Such a policy would analyse the risk factor to all practitioners in the sector. Professional consultants in the building sector-architects, engineers, builders, quantity and land surveyors, town and urban planners are all going to be negatively affected by this unwarranted increase. The army of local artisans will also be affected, as a reduction in labour requirements on projects is likely, as a cost reduction measure.
“We wish to state that the cost of construction activities (which are highly dependent on cement in Nigeria) even prior to the recent hike from N1, 450 to N2, 100 were expensive enough. With this recent turn of events it will not be inappropriate to say there is the distinct possibility that the price increase will be damaging to the sector.
“The obvious effects are higher construction costs across board, which will have to be paid for somehow. The attempt by firms to maintain a profitability ratio that will be additionally battered by other equally unstable factors is likely to translate to cost-cutting measures.
This will undoubtedly result in poorer quality, unsafe structures that have less real value,” he stated