Anti-corruption group calls for banning of 32.5 grade cement in Nigeria

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A group, Anti-Corruption Network in Abuja Nigeria has expressed concern over the rampant cases of building collapse in the country, resulting in loss of many lives and property and called on the Federal Government to bar the use of 32.5 grade cement.

According to Secretary of the group and former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, the 32.5 cement grade has never given much strength in construction anywhere in the world like the 42.5 grade, insisting that his recommendation would save Nigerians from further building collapse and loss of lives and property.

Melaye regretted that the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria had not taken the ongoing clamour for upgrade of cement in the country seriously.

Melaye said in recent times there has been a clamor for the standardisation of cement in Nigeria but it is not getting the attention it deserves from the Ministry of Trade and Investment adding that Cement companies in Nigeria are insisting on making use of the 32.5 grade with the porous explanation that it is good for plastering only.

“But the typical Nigerian builder will end up using it for pillars, columns and beams, and the structure will continue to be in danger. On the strength of this myopic explanation by selfish cement companies in their ploy to continue to endanger the lives of people, we, as the voice for the voiceless and as an organisation that speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves, will not keep quiet. If the cement market is filled with 32.5 and 42.5 cement grades, you and I know the ones the illiterates and the greedy contractors will go for. He said”

He asked, “Who will police the builders and the contractors to make sure that they use the 42.5 grade for pillars and 32.5 for plastering only? Nigeria still has a long way to go in effective regulation of construction. In a situation like this, the win-win option for the larger good of the society is to standardise the quality of the cement by raising the bar.

Recently, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) president, Ali Kazeem said sub-standard cement was not the cause of building collapses adding that cement manufacturers in Nigeria have adhered to high safety standards. He attributed the rampant collapse of buildings to influential building owners who always go scot-free since COREN does not have the power to arrest and prosecute them.

The association of cement producers comprising, Lafarge Cement, Wapco, Ashaka Cement, Northern Cement Company of Nigeria and United Cement Company Plc, have also refuted the claims of low quality cement as the cause of collapses and they argue that attention should rather be on the need to improve construction practices.

Nigeria’s Lafarge Cement says the increasing incidents of building collapses in Nigeria are not as a result of poor quality cement but as a result of structural designs and poor usage of building materials by project handlers. Dangote Cement Plc also refutes the claims saying they adhere to global best practices of cement production of a minimum of 42.5 grade cement through and above all their factories nationwide.

However, Dangote says those companies arguing that migrating from 32.5 to 42.5 would erode their profit margins are insincere and selfish as human lives are more important than profits.

Experts have observed that the incidence of building collapse in Nigeria has become rampant in the last 10 years, incidentally at a time when more qualified professionals abound in the country.