Lagos, Nigeria – The Cement Producers Association of Nigeria (CPAN) has issued a cautionary statement expressing concerns regarding the federal government’s ongoing plan to introduce concrete roads, warning that it could potentially lead to a significant increase in the price of cement to N9,000 per bag, up from the current rate of N5,000.
In a joint statement signed by CPAN’s National Chairman, Prince David Iweta, and National Secretary, Chief Reagan Ufomba, the association acknowledged the Minister of Works’ support for the idea of cement-made roads but stressed the need for careful consideration of the potential consequences if the supply side of the equation is not adequately addressed.
The statement read, “Our findings from various parts of the country show that cement sells for as high as N6,000 per bag in the rainy season. We predict that it will sell for over N9,000 per bag in the dry season, especially with the pronouncement of the Honourable Minister of Works on cement technology and the marching order on housing by Mr. President if the government does not take proactive steps.”
“While we commend the Honourable Minister’s position on cement-made roads, we warn of the dire consequences if the supply end is not properly addressed. It would amount to a dereliction of duty not to intervene. And the time is now.”
CPAN further emphasized the need for immediate intervention to prevent the worsening of cement price-related challenges and infrastructure deficits in the country.
The association has called upon the current administration to take permanent measures to resolve the persistent issue of rising cement prices by encouraging greater involvement in the cement industry, stressing that Nigerians should not have to pay more than N5,600 per bag.
To address the challenge posed by the transition to concrete roads, CPAN recommends that the government prioritize road designs that can accommodate both cement technology and asphalt pavement simultaneously. They also propose allowing ample time for a smooth transition, enabling contractors to invest in the necessary equipment and retooling for this purpose.
Additionally, CPAN called on the federal government to intervene in the foreign exchange market and assist manufacturers in restructuring bad loans, thereby creating a more stable environment for the cement industry.
As the federal government’s plans for concrete roads progress, it remains crucial to strike a balance between technological advancements and the economic impact on the cement industry and the average Nigerian citizen. The cautious approach advocated by CPAN underscores the importance of a well-thought-out strategy to ensure the success of this ambitious infrastructure initiative.
The concerns raised by the Cement Producers Association of Nigeria reflect a broader issue that has plagued the cement industry in the country for some time. Cement is a fundamental building material, and any significant increase in its price can have far-reaching consequences on construction projects, housing affordability, and infrastructure development.
CPAN’s warning of a potential price hike to N9,000 per bag is not to be taken lightly. The Nigerian economy is still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and faces various challenges, including inflation and currency devaluation. An abrupt surge in cement prices could further strain the financial resources of both individuals and businesses, making it harder for them to engage in construction activities.
It’s noteworthy that CPAN is not against the government’s initiative to promote concrete roads, which are known for their durability and cost-effectiveness. Concrete roads can reduce maintenance costs in the long run and provide better transportation infrastructure. However, the association rightly points out that the transition to concrete roads should be carefully managed to avoid unintended consequences.
One of the critical recommendations made by CPAN is the simultaneous use of cement technology and asphalt pavement in road designs. This approach can offer the benefits of both technologies while providing flexibility in terms of materials used. Such a strategy allows for a smoother transition and ensures that the cement industry can adapt to the changing demands of the construction sector.
Furthermore, CPAN’s call for government intervention in the forex market and assistance in restructuring bad loans is a plea for support in ensuring the stability of the cement industry. Access to foreign exchange is essential for importing critical raw materials and machinery, and resolving issues related to bad loans can free up capital for reinvestment in production and innovation.
In conclusion, while the federal government’s plan to introduce concrete roads is a significant step towards improving Nigeria’s infrastructure, it must be executed with careful consideration of the impact on the cement industry and the broader economy. The concerns raised by the Cement Producers Association of Nigeria should serve as a reminder that sustainable development requires a balanced approach that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders. Collaboration between the government and industry players is essential to ensure that the transition to concrete roads is successful and beneficial for the nation as a whole.