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House summons cement makers to explain price hike



Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday summoned major cement producers, including Dangote Cement, BUA Cement, and Lafarge Africa, to a hearing regarding the recent surge in cement prices. Lawmakers expressed concern over the “arbitrary increase,” which has seen a 50% jump in some areas, pushing a 50kg bag of cement to around N10,000 ($23 USD).

This action follows a motion presented by representatives Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi and Ademorin Kuye.

The House resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion titled “Arbitrary increase in the price of cement by manufacturers of cement in Nigeria,” raised by the duo.

Leading the debate at a session presided over by the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, Gbefwi argued that cement manufacturers have increased the price of the product by about 50 per cent, leading to sharp hikes in the prices of building blocks, the cost of building, and consequently rents across the country.

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According to him, it is ironic that while the prices of raw materials used for the manufacturing of cement, especially lime, silica, alumina, iron oxide, and gypsum (all sourced locally) are not affected by the exchange rate volatility, the price of has cement continued to rise almost on a weekly basis.

Gbefwi also noted that the factors of production and elements of the cement production flow chart “are sourced locally and have not changed significantly year-on-year,” stressing that “cement manufacturers are capitalsiing on exchange volatility to arbitrarily increase the price of the product, whose cost of production has not changed significantly since last year.”

According to him, a small but powerful “cement cabal” is unconscionably inflicting hardship on Nigerians “As the prices of rent and associated services have increased.”

They argued that the price hike is unjustified as the raw materials and production processes for cement haven’t significantly changed. The lawmakers suspect cement companies are exploiting exchange rate fluctuations to inflate prices.

Following the adoption of the motion, the House summoned the manufacturers to appear before it in the next sectoral debate just as it mandated its committees on Solid Minerals Development, Commerce, Industry and Special Duties to investigate the arbitrary increase in the price of cement by manufacturers in the country and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

This development comes amidst rising concerns about the impact of high cement prices on the construction sector and the overall economy. Increased cement costs are linked to inflated prices for building blocks and construction projects, potentially leading to higher rents and a slowdown in the building industry.

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