Mr Oyebamiji Dauda, Chairman, Lagos State Bricklayers’ Association, has urged the Federal Government to address the rise in the price of cement to enhance access to affordable housing.
Dauda gave the advice in an interview with source on Thursday in Lagos, South-West Nigeria.
He appealed to the government to make cement manufacturing business more competitive by allowing more competent producers to operate in the market.
According to him, allowing more producers will make cement production more competitive, leading to increase in supply and reduction in price.
“There is the need for establishment of more cement manufacturing firms to help crash the price.
“Our observation is that high cost of cement is as a result of few manufacturing plants,” he said.
Dauda added that high cost of cement was greatly affecting building construction as it was a major component of building materials.
The chairman expressed regret that a meeting held by his association with a major cement manufacturer to address the high cost of the product had yielded no result.
“As a major component of building materials, cement is supposed to be the cheapest of all other materials used in construction.
“It is, however, unfortunate that the price has increased to the extent that a bag of cement now sells for between N2, 800 and N3, 000, depending on the brand.
“I can recall that our association held a meeting held with the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aluko Dangote on August 22, 2013 and he promised to bring down the price of cement to N1, 200 per bag.
“It is unfortunate that up till today, nothing has been done in that direction. Rather, the price of cement has been increasing on daily basis,” he said.
Dauda, therefore, called on the Federal Government to formulate policies that would make the price cheaper and affordable.
This, he said, had become necessary as cement had remained a major component in building construction, adding that its low price would guarantee access to affordable housing.
Dauda said that government could subsidise the product and stabilise the price at N1, 000, irrespective of the type or brand.
He called for ban on importation of building materials or increase in tariff for the suggestion to work.
Dauda also urged the government to grant tax holidays to companies producing building materials in order to relieve them of the high cost of production and consequently reduce their prices.
“Such a policy should not be limited to cement only; it should also apply to other materials being used in building construction.
“That will encourage local production and consumption of the materials as well as make housing more affordable to Nigerians,” he said.
Amaka E. Nliam