Dangote Cement plc yesterday hailed the move by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to review standardization of cement in the country towards attaining the highest level of safety in building and construction.
The cement company at a forum in Lagos also urged SON to immediately begin the enforcement of the new cement classification and its uses to rid the nation of substandard cement and the attendant incidence of structure failures.
The management of the company made the call during a press briefing held in Lagos to make its position known on the controversies surrounding the new standard review and the classification of cement type.
Dangote Cement Director, Ekanem Etim said that the review and the classification was coming too late after the nation and its citizens have been subjected to harrowing experience of loss of lives and properties and that the regulatory should spare no further time to enforce the implementation of the new standard.
According to him, it is only economic saboteurs and profiteers that would kick against the new standard for cement production as other countries of the world have moved up beyond the level and the low grade being canvassed by some of the manufacturers opposed to the new standard.
The Technical Committee of the SON which comprised of all stakeholders in the building and construction industry including all cement manufacturers, had in the wake of wide spread protest against the collapse of structures across the country in which accusing fingers were being pointed to low quality of cement as being a key factor in the structure failures met to review the existing standard.
The Committee at the end of the meeting came up with a review of the standard and classified cement into three grades and stipulated their exclusive uses to guide against misapplication and adulteration.
A report on the reviewed standard was adopted and forwarded to the SON Governing Council which looked at the reviewed standard and approved it before sending it to the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry for final approval for implementation
The new review restricted the use of the 32.5 grade strength to plastering of structures only while 42.5 grade is recommended for the construction of buildings, beams, load bearing columns, pillars, block moulding and other structures and the 52.5 recommended for the construction bigger projects like bridges, flyovers, and high rise buildings.
Etim argued that several countries have phased out the 32.5 MPA and that what Dangote cement has done is to set a minimum standard of 42.5 MPA and will go ahead and educate the people on the uses of the different grades of cement.
“If any manufacturer wants to continue to produce 32.5 grade or even below and canvassing it as being for multi-purpose use, that is their problem with the authorities. As for Dangote, we have already complied even before the authorities came out to set the new standard.
“We are committed to the SON standard, the position is in line with global best practices and we call on the Son to begin enforcement immediately. We hold the lives of the people so dear, the more we delay, the more we endanger the lives of the people.
“We have the interest of the people at heart and we can’t open our eyes as indigenous company to allow economic saboteurs to put the lives of our people at risk.”
The Dangote Cement boss pointed out that the SON had always set 42.5 as the minimum standard when preponderance of consumption was being serviced with imports and all were importing 42.5 grade, with the little local production being 32.5 grade.
“Now that production has been domesticated what SON has only done is to extend the 42.5 to cover local production and we wonder why a company which has been operating in the country for decades would find it difficult to switch to 42.5.
“SON is not asking for anything out of this world,, just switch, though it might cost more but it is necessary in the interest of the people and the country”, he noted.