By Kingsley Adegboye
Selling of sand is certainly not a corporate or dignifying business venture. It can best be described as an odd or dirty business for those with little or no formal education. But those engaged in this age-long business see the hidden treasure in it and are smiling to their banks with fabulous returns daily.
A visit to any sand market in any part of Lagos metropolis reveals that they are as busy as construction sites. Apart from the array of trucks of all sizes filled and half filled as well as all sand types waiting for buyers, one finds both men and women young and old who act as marketing agents or touts for sand dealers. Flaunting the good qualities of the sand on sale, these touts make advances at virtually everybody passing through the market to come and patronise them. Their belief is that anybody who comes to the market wants to purchase sand, gravel or granite. They would pester any visitor to the market with questions such as “What type of sand are you looking for? Is it dagbo, sharp, plaster, white, soft or gravel? We have the best sand around and our tippers are always filled to the brim, “they would assure intending customers.
The busy nature of the market is more visible with the number of trucks that are coming to supply different sand types to the market and loaded trucks leaving to deliver purchased sand types to various construction sites. The market is usually a beehive of activities until late in the evening when the dealers either go home or smile to the banks to deposit the huge profits made from the day’s sales.
The success of the business according to Ismail Ishola, a sand dealer at Oja Oba in Oko-Oba area of Lagos metropolis, is due to the boom in the construction sub-sector of the economy. He noted that patience or perseverance on the part of the sand dealer is also required to make good returns from the business.
For Mr. Ishola, the activities in the construction industry determine whether the business is lucrative or not. He pointed out that, as major suppliers of sand materials to construction sites, their success is determined by the boom in the construction industry.
“What I mean is this, if you observe, you will notice that construction activities are going on everywhere in Lagos metropolis and outside the city.
It is the same way construction activities are going on in the neighbouring Ogun State. The way people living in Lagos metropolis are coming to purchase our products is the same way people are coming from Ogun State to buy. We depend on the boom in the construction sector to survive. Corporate organisations and individuals alike are building and they all need supplies from us. That is why our business is highly patronised.
“From morning till evening everyday, this is how you see people coming from all directions to look for one type of sand or the other, it is like this in all sand markets in Lagos. This shows that we are highly supportive to the construction industry in Nigeria. However, a lull in the sub-sector will adversely affect our business.
So, we pray that we don’t experience a lull in the construction industry so that our business will continue to enjoy the desired boom,”Ishola said.
Explaining that there are variations in the prices of sand types per tipper load due to their quality and usage, he added that the distance or location coupled with whether a customer is purchasing a double loaded truck or single tipper and whether the truck is the long or short type will further determine the prices of sand materials.
“We have all types of sand and gravel. They are used for various purposes in the construction of buildings. Equally, the types attract different prices depending on what you want. For instance, sharp and plaster sand do not sell for the same price.
Plaster is N17,000 for a single tipper while sharp sand sells for N30,000 for the same truck load. The location where you want the sand to be dropped will attract an additional charge. There are other lower sand types, but the least which is sand-fill is not less than N12,000 per tipper load.
Gravel is more expensive than other sand types because it is used for concrete jobs during construction. A single tipper load of gravel is not less than N35,000″, he noted.
Ishola who stated that sand materials are sourced from riverside and transported to dealers in the market, pointed out that to become a sand dealer does not require any special skill except the normal techniques of buying and selling.
According to him, the business is not gender discriminatory, a man or woman who has knowledge about trading can do sand business. He said the business can be started on a low scale with room for future expansion. With N150,000, you can start the business without a truck.
“Normally, people start small and later expand as the business grows with time. Those who don’t have trucks depend on truck owners for hire.
Those who hire trucks for the business also make their money, but they may not make as much money as truck owners. It is true that there is no business without its challenges. Some of our challenges include the fact that during the rains, some bush paths into the bush where we source our materials become unmotorable, which causes dealers not to have goods to sell.
This causes dryness in the business this period. Also, during rainy season, we have very high records of damaged trucks due to bad terrains which equally affect our business. But I must say that the good times of the business is more than the bad times,”Ishola said.