By Franklin Alli
DANGOTE Cement Plc has called on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to begin immediate implementation of the new cement standards for the industry in the country even as it denied de-marketing Lafarge products.
The new guidelines mandated local manufacturers to incorporate the following information on their bag of cement: CEM I 52.5R and 52.5N for use in the construction of bridges; CEM II 42.5R, 42.5N for use in the casting of columns, beams, slabs, blocks moulding; CEM I & II 32.5R, 32.5N for plastering of buildings only.
In a position statement on the new cement standardisation in the country, Etim Ekanem, Director, Dangote Cement Plc, noted , “Before the advent of 32.5, cement manufacturers including Lafarge were doing 42.5 when they were Blue Circles in WAPCO and Lafarge in AshakaCem ,everybody was producing 42.5; I would also refer you to a paper done by the Director General of SON that every cement company has the capacity to immediately switch over to the production of 42.5.
“In view of this, in fact, we call on SON to immediately go ahead and implement the new standards; yes, it may be a bit expensive but it doesn’t take time to switch over to 42.5. Lafarge can do it; in fact, they are already doing it; if you look at their total production, a percentage of it is 42.5,” he said.
He posited that another reason for immediate implementation of the new standards for the industry is that both Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, CMAN, and Lafarge WAPCO, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), were among the 48 key stakeholders on the Cement Technical Committee set up by SON to review the existing grades of cement in the country and to recommend the best grades that should be in place for the good of the country.
So the new standards did not just happened over night, it went through stages before the Technical Committee submitted their reports to the Governing Council of SON and it went through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment for approval before it came out papers,” he stated.
On this issue of monopolistic tendencies by Dangote, Ekanem said, “We are surprised by the flurry of adverts by Lafarge on 32.5 and the allegation that we are de-marketing Lafarge Nigeria. ‘We did not come into the industry until about 2007; the entire country was under the grip of Lafarge. What did they do? They failed to develop the local cement industry since they started operation in the country more than 56 years ago. Lafarge has been in this country since 1956-what is their capacity? They refused to develop the cement industry in Nigeria until we came in. by the end of this year our total capacity will reach 29 million metric tonnes; what is Lafarge doing? ,” he said.
Corroborating, Tony Chiejina, Group Head, and Corporate Communication, said “On 42.5 we stand; we have a lot of problems already in this country- insecurity to education, health, etc. We don’t want cement to be part of these problems; if we are able to arrest the cement segment, at least we would have taken care of one particular problem in this country and that is the issue of cement. “
Regarding increase in the price of the commodity, he said, “We are very concerned and that is why we have lowered the scale and telling people to come and buy directly from us and we will deliver it to the site. “Our price is advertised and we have not increased our price.
The price you are talking is a retail price. You know from the factory gate to the retail – end, it is a chain and there is logistics problem. “I can tell you our ex-factory to our distributors is isles than N1500 per bag so if they now take on delivery that is what is responsible for price increase.
That margin there is not coming to us. Besides, we try to intervene as much as possible. We have in all our manufacturing plants over 5,000 trucks we use in intervention purposes. We deliver the cement to you, to actually douse the extra costs to the customer.”