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Group condemns House of Reps over stand on cement standardisation


A non-governmental organisation, the Alliance Against Monopoly (AAM), has criticised the anti-people stance of the House of Representatives manifested by the House adoption of “the bogus, contradictory and anti people recommendations” of its Ad-Hoc Committee on Investigation on the Composition and Pigmentation of Cement in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by its president, Chief Ike Omife, The organisation said that by adopting the committee report, the House had tacitly supported the much criticised Cement Standardization Policy enunciated by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). It insisted that a more people friendly House of Representatives would have jettisoned the “patently wrong-headed recommendations which runs contrary to public good”.

The organisation noted that the findings and conclusion of the House Committee Report were at variance with the submissions of most of the experts who testified on oath during the public session. It wondered how the Committee arrived at a conclusion that defied logic in a matter in which empirical facts were furnished by both experts and industry practitioners.

The Group noted that the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) had in its presentation by its President,  Engr. Kashim A. Ali, submitted that “there was no scientific proof of the contribution of cement to incidences of collapsed buildings in the country”. COREN had observed that SON, which is the regulatory agency for setting standard for cement in Nigeria, did not have a competent laboratory for determining cement quality. It therefore condemned the recent release on categorization of cement in the country by SON noting that SON’s board as presently constituted lacked the technical competence to embark on such activity”.

 Buttressing the COREN argument, the Institute of Building through its President Tunde Lasabi noted that “experience throughout the world has shown very clearly that cement quality is not the source of building collapse. Rather, the root cause is most frequent related to poor construction practices and emphasized the need for training and re-training programmes for block makers and cement users in all part of the country as is being done by some cement manufacturers.

The AAM noted that the Nigerian Institute of Architects led by its president, Tonye Beaide, had observed that “Cement remains the cornerstone of the country’s development taking full cognizance of the quantum of work pending in housing and infrastructural development”.[eap_ad_2]
While on its part, the organisation said the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria through its President Engr. Joseph Makoju disclosed that “since the Standard Organsation of Nigeria (SON) has enforced a mandatory standard NIS 444-1:2003 for manufacture and quality of cement, all member companies have fully complied with the requirements of the cement standard, and their products are duly certified by SON. He further disclosed that SON carries out regular (quarterly) inspections of the cement plants, in addition to other testing measures to ensure rigorous compliance.

The Alliance Against Monopoly then wondered how a parliament which ordinarily should have the interest of the people at heart would endorse an obviously skewed report designed to entrench monopoly in the nation’s vibrant cement market.  This is moreso when the Nigeria Society of Engineers had in its presentation by his President Engr. Adewale Falade contended that “cement as a material is not used directly in construction works but is normally mixed with other materials such as sand and granite to form mortars, sandcrete and that all three grades of cement approved by SON, and available in the market have been satisfactorily used for construction purpose in the country”.  Falade had surmised that “the production and marketing of Grade 32.5 already certified and approved by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for use in Nigeria should continue unabated”.

The NGO accused the House of Representatives of being hands in glove with Dangote Cement Company Plc to entrench due market dominance and monopoly in Nigeria. It argued that the resultant effect of such monopolistic tendencies will be spiral increase in the cost of cement “a burden which the suffering masses should be spared”.

It aligned itself with the submission of the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) which had through its President, Sola Salako, asserted that since the commencement of cement production in Nigeria in 1952, the 32.5mpa grade has been the prevalent variant available and widely used in construction works across the country and that “overwhelming evidence abound that the 32.5mpa grade of cement has been the variant used for the construction of millions of buildings in the country, including sky scrapers and multi storey buildings; all of which are still of good and enduring quality and standard today, 57 years later”.

The organisation therefore urged the leadership and members of the House of Representatives “to ensure that the House is not unwittingly used in a proxy war by monopolists who want to continually fleece the poor masses” and “to rescind, as a matter of urgency, its endorsement of the obnoxious conclusion of the Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Public Investigation of the Composition and Pigmentation of Cement in Nigeria”.[eap_ad_3]

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