By Emma Amaize
FOUR indigenous cement manufacturers under the auspices of the Cement New Entrants Stakeholders have written to President Goodluck Jonathan, requesting him to grant each of them import license for five million metric tons of cement between now and 2015.
In a letter dated February 16 and addressed to the President, the four new entrants with own terminal: Prince David Iweta of Madewell Products Limited; Vincent Nehikhare of Eastern Bulkcem Company Limited; Chief Reagan Ufomba of Cement Company Limited; and Kola Sowande of Westcom Technologies & Energy Services Ltd, said granting them import license was a sure way to forcing down cement price to N1,000 per bag and breaking the current monopoly of a cabal in the industry.
In their words: “We wish to use this medium to request for Cement Import License of 1(one) million metric tons each year to 2015 contained in one permit/approval/license of 5 (five) million tons each by which time they all would have fully established their own Local Cement Manufacturing Plants of minimum of 3 (three) metric tons each.
This will ensure focus-driven development effort for the operators and the government for utmost aim of achieving self sufficiency in the production and price for the product between N500 — N1,000 per bag of cement.”
According to them: “The allocation and approval by Mr. President of the above quantity of cement to the New Entrants Stakeholders will no doubt attract the following benefits: create direct jobs for 600 outside indirect jobs for other Nigerians per company; contribute positively in achieving the MDG target in the areas of housing, education, good healthcare provision, poverty eradication, etc.
“Though we will consume $450 million in foreign exchange on 5 (five) million tons over 5 (five) years period on importation at $90pmt C & F Nigeria Port per company, it will save for Nigeria US$1.35 billion upon commencement of their local cement production over the same period of time ($90pmt x 3 million tons x 5 years), by Local Cement Plants say 2013 — 2015 producing 3 (three) million tons per year per company; ‘it will enable employment of about 1,500 professionals, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled Nigerians at the 3 (three) million tons Local Cement in Nigeria per company”, they submitted.
“Furthermore, it will guarantee internal economic co-operation as the cement plants will be exporting to other countries; it will support Federal Government’s Vision 20:2020 by producing cement locally, owning and contributing 600 mega-watts electricity by captive power plant and supply electricity to rural communities where the plants are located; it will favour cement users and government in the states and local areas where these factories are located; and it will greatly reduce social vices of our youths in all regions particularly in rural areas where plants are located as they will employ 2,100 workers (600 + 1,500)”, they said.
The cement manufacturers asserted: “We are prompted to state here that the government and indeed the entire cement consuming public is regularly fed with fabricated stories of attainment of self-sufficiency in cement production in Nigeria.Such information is untrue and misleading to the government and people of Nigeria.”
For the past 10 years, the ex-factory price for cement has hovered around N1, 400 per 50kg bag of cement and N1, 800 per bag at retail shop in Nigeria. This price is the highest in the world for ordinary Portland Cement, making Nigeria to be classified as country with the highest price of cement in the world”.