Cement standardisation: Group urges SON to give room for consumer choices

Byrebecca3360

Updated Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:05:51 GMT

Sola Salako, founder, Consumer Advocacy Forum (CAF), has urged the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure that consumers have the opportunity of making cement choices, since there has not been any scientific research showing that incessant building collapses were ever caused by 32.5 cement grade.

This was said by Salako during a radio programme on 101.5 FM in Lagos, while pledging support for elimination of any product that poses danger or is hazardous to the Nigerian consumers by SON.

According to her, restriction of a particular product or brand to plastering alone should be done with adequate proof to all stakeholders and the Nigerian public, so as to create a sense of fairness and objectivity that is required of a regulatory agency.

The CAF boss disclosed that she attended the public hearing organised in Abuja by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the causes of building collapses, where all presentations made by the professionals in the construction industry emphasised that there was no correlation between 32.5 cement grade and building collapses.

The consumer protection activist then charged the regulatory body to create a sense of fairness to all so as not to be seen as creating monopoly in the industry, adding that consumers were the ones that would eventually bear the brunt. She further said that the effect of this action could only be scarcity of cement, which would ultimately lead to price hike.

“Only by empowering consumers with information to protect themselves and insist on their rights can we achieve some degree of respect and fairness in our lopsided market,” she stated.

Recall that there has been a cement standardisation war over the past five months. The war began with a civil society group, which linked building collapses to 32.5 cement grade produced by Lafarge WAPCO, United Cement Company of Nigeria (UniCem), Ashaka Cement (AshakaCem), and Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN). Lafarge and co have since denied the link.

The war became fiercer when the SON issued a directive stating that cement with strength rating of 52.5R be used for bridges; 42.5R for casting of columns, beams, slabs and for moulding blocks, and 32.5R for plastering only. Lafarge and co have since gone to court to challenge this.

Meanwhile, Devakumar V. G Edwin, group managing director/CEO, Dangote Cement, told Real Sector Watch, in an exclusive interview, that rather than making anything out of the controversy, he was only after the best interest of Nigerians, adding that those who felt he was after monopoly must understand that he was not getting any extra concession from anybody.