New Telegraph

FG Threatens To Open Border For Cement Importation

The Federal Government through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has threatened to open the borders to cement importation if Nigerian cement manufacturers refuse to lower the price of their product in the country.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, who gave the warning on Tuesday, said key components of cement manufacturing were locally sourced and the recent increase in the price of the product was unreasonable and unacceptable.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with manufacturers of cement and building supplies, Dangiwa said that since gas is a domestic raw material, the price of gas that manufacturers are citing as an explanation was untenable.

He added that the manufacturers’ equipment is not bought every day and has been in use for decades, therefore the argument that there has been an increase in mining equipment is unfounded.

In order to support regional firms, the minister announced that cement imports had been prohibited.

He did point out that local industries would suffer greatly if the government were to allow widespread importation of cement, as cement costs would skyrocket.

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The minister urged the manufacturers to show greater patriotism, pointing out that BUA Cement, for example, has been willing as he did the last time he spoke with them to drop the price of their cement below the N7000 and N8000 that the manufacturers had agreed upon. He saw no reason why the other manufacturers should not follow suit.

He said: “The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country. The only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 per cent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria. It’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation. As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it.

“It is safe to say we are all Nigerians and we are all facing the current head weight that is happening. I would like to speak on the popular belief that most of the raw materials to produce cement are available locally.

“While we have limestone and in some cases, we have gypsum and some cases coal, the reality is that it takes a lot of forex-related items to produce cement.”

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