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Reps Sets Deadline for Cement Firms to Justify Price Surge

The House of Representatives has given Dangote Cement, BUA, Lafarge Ashaka, and other cement companies in Nigeria a 14-day ultimatum to appear before it and address the recent arbitrary price increases of cement nationwide.

Mr. Gaza Gbefwi, Chairman of the House Committee on Solid Minerals, issued the directive during a public hearing held in Abuja on Tuesday to investigate the rising cost of cement in Nigeria.

The House had adopted a motion on this issue on March 13, 2024, and constituted a joint committee to investigate further.

At the hearing, none of the cement companies or their representatives showed up, prompting Gbefwi, who represents Karu/Keffi/Kokona Federal Constituency, Nasarawa State, to express his displeasure.

He emphasized that the House had not been served with any court order preventing it from conducting investigative hearings.

Gbefwi stressed the importance of addressing the concerns raised by Nigerians regarding the high cost of cement, especially considering its significance in construction and building projects.

He urged the companies to make their submissions within the stipulated 14-day period to avoid further action by the House.

Also Speaking, the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, pledged the House’s commitment to enact legislation that promotes industrialization and addresses challenges in the building sector caused by frequent cement price hikes.

He assured the companies that the invitation was not meant to target them but to find solutions collaboratively.

He said: “We are committed to collaborating with both cement manufacturers and end-users, believing this is the most effective way to improve the quality of life and standard of living for our citizens. We are also dedicated to enacting laws that prevent a recurrence of the factors that led to the current situation.

“Our goal is to inform Nigerians about the industry’s current state and collaboratively find solutions to navigate the challenges. The persistent rise in cement prices has had a detrimental impact not only on the building environment but also on the entire economy. Cement is a fundamental component used in construction projects like bridges, dams, houses, waterworks, and road infrastructure. This makes addressing this issue paramount.”

Earlier in his welcome address, Gbefwi highlighted Nigeria’s high housing deficit and infrastructural challenges and expressed concern about the recent surge in cement prices, which has led to hardship for Nigerians. He noted that compared to other African countries, Nigeria has the highest cement prices, raising questions about the reasons behind the disparity.

“Our review of cement prices in other countries like Kenya, India and Zambia for 2021 alone shows that Nigeria has the highest price of cement using the official exchange rates for each country. Nigeria’s price of cement doubles that of India at a difference of 69 per cent. Similarly, the price is 29 per cent higher than that in Kenya and 39 per cent higher in Zambia; hence the need for us to come together and find out why,” he added.

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