Market research conducted by NAN at various wholesale and retail stores in the area shows that the price of the product has almost doubled from the 2020 price.
A cement merchant at the Kenyetta market in the capital of Enugu state, Mr. Ifeanyi Amadi said the increase in the price of the product started last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the dollar exchange rate.
He noted that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags initially sold for 1.5 million naira in 2020, but is now 2.3 million naira in the first quarter of 2021.
“Prices change daily, so as we speak now, I cannot guarantee the prices that it will be sold tomorrow,” he said.
Another Uwani retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, said he was surprised at the product’s prices in the country.
Uwakwe lamented that few individuals had the opportunity to supply the product and pleaded with suppliers to reduce prices and make it available to citizens.
He argued that prices would likely collapse during the rainy season.
Owner of the block industry, Mr. Albert Okechukwu noted that the increase in the price of the product affected his business as he still sold six inch and nine inch blocks at N170 and N180 respectively.
“It’s the same price we sold last year and it’s the same to this day because we can’t change prices in order to keep our customers coming back, but most of the block industries have cut back the quality of their blocks, ”he said.
Site engineer Mr Emma Ugwuoke said he wanted to start a building in the village when the price was N 2,800 last year, but was waiting to see if it would go down.
“When I went back next time I was told it was N3,000 and to my surprise they now sell N3,900 and N4,000 in my village.
“There’s nothing to do but buy it like this. I want the government to do something urgently about this because it is frustrating to buy cement at this price, ”Ugwuoke said.
In Abia, a representative sample of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also denounced the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50 kg bag.
Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hopes of many Nigerians to own their personal homes.
A businessman, Mr. Victor Ugwu, said he had to put his construction project on hold because of the “unfortunate development”.
Ugwu said: “I have stopped my project for the moment. I cannot afford to continue with the current price of the product.
“The economy is very bad, so I hope to wait for the prices to drop.
“I think the increase can be attributed to the monopoly enjoyed by the country’s cement producers. Unfortunately, there may not be a break until this monopoly is broken. “
However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the issue had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the product.
Instead, Ogbonna blamed the price hikes on the activities of the cement “shylock distributors”.
He said the hike had hurt his business, adding that cement sponsorship was at its lowest since the price hike.
He said: “In the first and second week of March we sold a bag for N3 200, but in the third week we started selling at N3 500.
“At the end of March the price rose to N4,000 and now we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”
Another dealer, Mr. Godwin Okafor, said his sales had dropped significantly due to the increase.
“We now have a lot of challenges in this cement sector. When we make a deposit and an order for the goods, it takes about a month before we are delivered, ”he said.
It is a similar situation to Awka in Anambra as stakeholders denounce the situation.
Mr. Kenechukwu Okoye, a cement merchant along Zik Avenue, told Awka before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at 2,500 N.
“Shortly after #EndSARS the price jumped to N3,000 and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4 100N we are selling today,” he said.
Okoye said that although distributors initially attributed the problem to the difficulties faced by the shipping company carrying the product, the situation remained.
In Owerri, the capital of Imo, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.
Mr. Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation due to the price of fuel.
Okonya also said major dealers sometimes stock the product in their warehouses to create an artificial shortage.
Another trader, Mr. Marcel Iwu, acknowledged that while there has been a build-up by large distributors, manufacturers have also complained about the rising cost of raw materials.
Iwu added that the prices could go up or down at any time, noting that even if the prices fell, traders would want to sell their old stock at higher rates.
NAN reports that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, the prices of almost all building materials have increased.
Prices for cement, rods of various sizes, corrugated roofing sheets and other building materials and accessories according to the NAN findings have been on the rise since January.
The price of Dangote and Bua which sold at N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 was now selling between N4000 and N4500.
Likewise, Unicem cement which also sold at 2,300 N during the same period also increased to 4,000 N and 4,300 N.
Mr. John Okoh, a cement trader in the Kpiri-Kpiri market in an interview with NAN attributed the development to the lack of a price control mechanism and the high exchange rate of the naira against the dollar.
“The development is indeed affecting sales and business because many builders have put an end to their buildings and other construction projects because they cannot afford the current high cost of the product.
Another resident, Mr. Clement Igbo, who owns a block molding industry, said the high cost of cement is hampering production, saying it is no longer producing at peak due to the lack of buyers.
“A bag of Dangote cement, one of the best products for our business, sells for N 4,500 and it is difficult to buy at that list price and produce enough.
“We sell six inch and nine inch blocks before this price increase to N150 and N200, but now the 6 inch block is sold at N220 while the 9 inch block sells between N250 and N300 respectively.
“Many of the city’s block industries have stopped production while some have compromised standards, posing great dangers to the construction industry,” Igbo said.
He expressed fears that the high cost of cement which had led to an inappropriate “mixing” of concrete for construction purposes could affect the quality and standard of buildings.
Mr. Jerry Onwe, an economic activist urged federal and state governments to revive moribund cement factories across the states to meet the growing demand for cement consumption in Nigeria.
He noted that the quest for collective housing for poor Nigerians would remain elusive if urgent action was not taken to address the high cost of building materials in Nigeria.
“In a country where the average worker earns 30,000 naira a month in take-home pay, how can such a person afford his own house considering the going price of building materials?
“We have reached a crossroads on the issue of building materials and the time has come for the government to step in and get the situation under control.
“The Nkalagu cement plant in Ebonyi is able to meet the cement needs of the entire southeast if it is properly revived,” Onwe said.
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