Since the issues of cement standardization came to the public consciousness following series of structure failures across the country, the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), embarked on several efforts aimed to stem the tide of building collapse. To the consternation of the regulatory body and quite interesting too, investigations have revealed that most structures that are giving way are those that are recently put up while old buildings erected over decades ago are still solidly standing.
The authorities and stakeholders alike also discovered that the construction industry has become all comers’ affair to the extent that quacks dominate the business space in the industry, low quality building materials are common place while the right applications of vital materials are disregarded.
One of the most common misapplied materials is cement, regarded as a binding agent in building and construction. The SON has come out to differentiate the various grades of cement and their application as oppose to the claim by some of the builders that cement is cement, no matter the grade.
It was generally believed that if cement is misapplied, then the structure is in danger. Therefore, the cement must be classified so that users would be sure the uses into which each grade of cement could be deployed. The three grades of cement produced in Nigeria are 32.5; 42.5 and 52.5 grades. The 52.5 grade is reserved for specialized structures like bridges, flyovers, high rise buildings etc. the 42.5 grade is for general construction purpose while 32.5 which is the least grade has been consigned to plastering use only. The SON went ahead to give each grade colour code for easy identification by consumers.
Dangote Cement, a leading player in the sub-sector only produces the higher grades of 42.5 and 52.5 from all its three plants in Obajana, Kogi State, Gboko, Benue State and Ibese in Ogun State. The company also embarked on enlightenment of the public and training of the block makers on the application of the two different grades.
Meanwhile, while Dangote has 42.5 as its lower grade, some other competitors only produce 32.5 grade and sold at almost the same price as Dangote’s higher grade. This development prompted the company’s distributors and other customers to ask why the company is not producing the 32.5 grades as well. In market, where the consumers have developed a trust in the manufacturers they always clamour for more range of products.
They often prefer getting most of their needs and materials from a single source. Consumers are attracted to manufacturing supermarkets where same product but with different strengths and qualities are on display. The major attraction here is that a reputable manufacturer such as Dangote Cement with a range of same products will always produce them to the stipulated standard.
A forward thinking manufacturer places the interest of its customers’ first. It thinks of them as it innovates, develops and deploys more products. A creative manufacturer thinks ahead of competition, takes advantage of policies and opportunities to create more values for stakeholders.
It was in full compliance with the directive of the SON on the various grades of cement and their prescribed uses and the need to offer consumers alternatives for various construction needs that Dangote Cement announced plans to launch its brand of the premium 32.5 cement grade.
Group Managing Director, Dangote Cement, Devakumar Edwin, said specifically that the 32.5 grade, which has the lowest strength among the various cement products will be priced lower than the others and will be selling at N200 lower than the price of the higher strength 42.5 grade: “This in addition offers our numerous customers and end users the prerogative of choice and its appropriate application.”
The new product which has been branded, Dangote Cement 1X”, Edwin stated was in response to popular demand from the customers as well as in full compliance with the SON directive encouraging production of all grades of cement but with clear labelling on the use. He noted that the entrance of the 32.5 cement grade from Dangote would ensure that the consumer pays the appropriate price for the right value rather than paying more for lower grade as is presently the case in the market.
According to him, the 32.5 cement grade would be clearly marked in the colour prescribed by the SON with the uses for which it should be applied, which is purely for plastering. Dangote with this move now produces 42.5 for column and beam casting, block making, decking and other general purpose construction work that require high strength, while also producing the premium 32.5 grade for plastering and flooring only.
The company is also pushing out the 52.5 grade for specialized construction of high strength structures such as bridges, flyovers among others. Edwin said in compliance with the SON standard for cement quality and packaging, the lower grade 32.5 type on the Dangote shelf will be clearly labelled as such, in order to prevent the problem of misapplication and misuse of the product which has become rampant in the nation’s building and construction industry:
“We have significantly increased the supply of cement to the market and as it is expected the enhancement in supply of the product to the market has also resulted to a reasonable reduction in the price of the product.”
Edwin also informed that it will continue with its nationwide campaign and capacity building which it initiated and has sustained for the past three years, to ensure that the different grades of cement are easily identified by users and used only for their prescribed purposes.
Dangote Cement recently embarked on enlightenment programme on radio across the country to educate and inform the public on the benefits of using Dangote 42.5 3X Cement in their construction works especially block making, casting of pillars, beams and slabs.
Director, Sales and Marketing, Chux Mogbolu, said the public awareness became necessary as research has shown that most cement users in Nigeria cannot differentiate between the various grades of cement and their uses hence leading to application of lower cement grade where higher grade cement should have been used. The campaign is to educate the public on the appropriate use of the different grades of cement.
He said because of the abysmal level of knowledge among artisans, block makers, masons and other craftsmen in the building industry, use of 32.5 grade cement in blocking making and house building has resulted in several cases of building collapse. He insisted that 32.5 be restricted to plastering and finishing. He enjoined the public to always buy Dangote Cement, as they will be buying peace of mind and will build with peace of mind, adding that the quality of products from the cement company ensures that customers always come back why the goods do not come back.
As part of efforts towards eliminating the menace of building collapse, SON embarked on the standardization of the basic inputs in building and construction like Iron and steel, roofing materials. Having completed standardization in other areas, the agency set out to review cement standard. It adopted a holistic approach as to ensure that standards are maintained in all spheres of the building process.
Following widespread protests over rampant building collapse, the regulatory agency took the commendable step of immediate response to review cement standards in the country. The technical committee of SON consulted widely with stakeholders from all sectors including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (COREN), universities, researchers, builders, block makers towards fashioning a suitable cement standard regime.
The stakeholders agreed to streamline cement types, with 42.5 cement for general purposes while 32.5 will now be restricted to plastering work. Dangote Cement launched the 32.5 grade to provide more alternatives for end-users.
Recently, in advancing Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, , the Director General of SON, Joseph Odumodu, in advancing efforts towards standardisation by ensuring compliance to standards by stakeholders as it unveiled new cement packaging compliance regulations. Also the “Mandatory Certification of Sandcrete blocks and unveiling of the new cement bags labelling in Nigeria” was launched with the assurance that consumers’ confidence would be boosted following the regulations and patronage by consumers would lead to increased capacity utilisation.
While acknowledging the contribution of SMEs to the growth of the economy, the minister said it was incumbent on the government to sanitise the building and construction sector: “The most recent review of the Nigeria industrial standard for sandcrete block moulding would address the issue of load bearing in response to the worrisome spate of building and structural collapses in recent years.”
Odumodu told the audience at the stakeholders’ forum in Abuja that one of the functions of his agency is continuous maintenance of standard by operators: “We are determined to ensure standards because the several incidences of building collapse in the country has gotten to an embarrassing level. The recent test conducted on cement blocks in Nigeria, especially the load bearing ones, made a revelation that only five percent of the blocks met the specifications of the standards -NIS 587 of 2007. That necessitated what we are doing here today.
“We believe that any factor that contributed in any way to building collapse should be addressed. Load bearing blocks happen to be one of them and that is what we are addressing. What we are doing here today is to start a certification process. In this we are collaborating with block moulders’ associations, concrete moulders, building collapse prevention guild and stakeholders. We are collaborating with them as a self-regulatory organisation as a way to clean up the system.”
Aganga also unveiled new cement bags certified by regulatory agencies which, according to him, “must have batch numbers for traceability, have expiry dates because they are chemicals and they do expire. There are other issues like storage that we are working on and they must all comply.”
Dangote Cement has thrown its weight behind the new steps by SON to rid the industry of sub-standard cement and misapplication. The company announced that this informs its decision to produce the 32.5 grade to complete the grade cycle at a lower price with a clear warning message that it is meant for plastering only.
Source : SunOnline