The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge cement WAPCO, Mr. Joe Hudson said this at a media briefing held by Lafarge businesses in Nigeria to clarify issues on the clamour by some groups linking persistent building collapse in Nigeria to the use of 32.5 grade of cement.
While refuting the claim, Mr. Hudson stated expressly that “in alignment with all relevant professional bodies and agencies, including the SON, there is no sub-standard cement in production in Nigeria”. He disclosed that cement is merely a component of concrete therefore cannot be the root cause of building collapse, adding that some of the causes of the building collapse as identified at a public discourse recently organized by the company are use of un-qualified workmen in construction, non-adherence to building codes, engagement of non- professionals, sharp practices by some contractors, natural disasters and sabotage.
He reminded that Lafarge remains the champion of fighting building collapse in Nigeria. “We are the first cement actor in the country to rally support for addressing the root cause of building collapse, starting in 2010 with the first building collapse national discourse. The second edition was held in April 2014, with all key stakeholders in attendance and the contributions at these sessions, which are key to achieving zero building collapse objective have been made public via a published Communique”
He further stressed that just like in other parts of the world where it operates, Lafarge has the widest range of cement products in Nigeria, which have been developed to respond more specifically to various needs of different customers and applications and meet the needs of low buildings and more sophisticated structures. He added that the company will continue to innovate to bring new solutions which will help build better cities and contribute to industrialization of Nigeria. “We will continue all efforts to heighten awareness of our products and to make sure the public knows about the strength and quality of our solutions” he said.
Mr. Hudson maintained that there is nowhere else in the world, where the 32.5 cement grade has either been restricted or banned, declaring “it is interesting to note that In South Africa, 32.5 cement grade is recommended for a wide spectrum of applications by another leading cement producer in Nigeria”.
In concluding Lafarge WAPCO MD raised the poser “why then is this debate about 32.5 cement grade raging in Nigeria?” and submitted that it is definitely not about eliminating building collapse as all the experts and regulators such as SON have expressly stated that there is no substandard cement in Nigeria and also that cement itself is not the cause of building collapse. He affirmed that offering a wide range of good quality products, establishment of building code and concrete standards, enforcement and positive collaboration by all stakeholders will help fight the menace of building collapse in the country.
While making his remarks, Mr. Olivier Lenoir, Managing Director of Unicem in Calabar stated that 90% of cement produced by his company for many years is 32.5 and there has never been an incident associated with their products. He revealed that Unicem has also recently announced an expansion of its capacity while urging that “regulators should not take arbitrary decisions based on inconclusive processes, but rather ensure that all stakeholders are properly engaged, as it creates doubts about the investment climate in the country”.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Managing Director of Ashaka Cement Mr. Leonard Palka said that as stakeholders and manufacturers of cement brands that have served this country for several years, “we had engaged the regulatory authorities severally since the misinformation on cement quality in Nigeria began to be peddled because of our desire to present the facts that would ensure that informed decisions are taken in the overall interest of Nigerians”.
He warned against the decision to limit the use of 32.5 because according to him, such a move would “eliminate consumers choices, limit producers’ capacities and ultimately lead to increase in cement prices across the country” He maintained that there should be a level playing field for all players in the cement industry to operate without any fear, and wondered why the North-Eastern part of Nigeria where Ashakacem operates and produces majorly 32.5 cement should be made to suffer untold socio-economic hardships as a result of ill-thought decisions, even when cases of collapsed building have never been recorded.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Lafarge in Nigeria
Lafarge, a leading manufacturer and marketer of cement, started operations in Nigeria in 2001 with the acquisition of Blue Circle. Since then, Lafarge has developed a new site in Ewekoro in 2003 (1.5 million metric tonnest) and recently added a new 2.5million metric tonnes line in Ewekoro site at the cost of €350 million. Today, we have 8.5million metric tonnes production capacity in Nigeria, of which 4.5m is in WAPCO - Ogun State with three plants, 1m in Ashaka - Gombe State, and 0.5m in Atlas, Onne, Rivers State. We are part owners of Unicem in Calabar. Lafarge also has a Readymix concrete business located in Ogun and Lagos states with new sites coming up in Rivers State and Abuja. , Lafarge is a premium cement company with innovative drive to provide valued added products and services solutions in the building and construction industry. Additional information is available on the web site at www.lafarge.com.ng
About Lafarge SA
A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 64,000 people in 62 countries, and posted sales of 15.2 billion Euros in 2013. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates & Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions, providing them with more housing, and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful and better connected. With the world’s leading building materials facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity. More information is available on Lafarge’s website:www.lafarge.com