By Mike Adeyemi
The hike in the price of cement across Kwara State has rattled builders, dealers, block manufacturers and workers in the building construction industry.
It has also unsettled low-income earners, middle-class businessmen and civil servants who have plans to build houses.
A market survey conducted by National Pilot at various wholesale and retail shops in Ilorin metropolis shows that the price of the product has increased almost by double when compared to the price in 2020.
Nigeria is said to be the largest manufacturer of cement in West Africa, and arguably in Africa, yet the price of this essential commodity in the construction and building industry has continued to rise, especially this year.
A cement dealer at Cemetery Road, Osere, Isiaq Garba, noted that the increase started before the #EndSARS protest, saying a bag of cement was N2,600 and sold by dealers at N2,800, but that later distributors increased the price to N3,500 and retailers sold it at N3,700.
Isiaq explained further that, “Before, we could deposit money for 300 bags and get supply, but now you need money for 900 bags, and that is a full trailer. Also, the supply is always delayed; it can be up to a month before you get it.”
He said the price of the commodity was affecting his business severely because it had become too expensive and that customers were complaining, adding that the few who were buying could only afford in small quantities.
He further said a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags initially sold at N1.5 million in 2020 is now N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.
“The prices change on a daily basis, so as we are talking now, I cannot guarantee the prices it will be sold tomorrow,” Isiaq lamented.
To corroborate this claim, another dealer, Agboola Segun, said many customers had stopped patronizing him because of the hike in price of the product.
Agboola said, “We have so many challenges in this business. Before the increase, customers expected it to go down due to the COVID-19 lockdown and other factors, but I was shocked when I was told of the increase when I went to restock. I believe the hike is from distributors.”
Manager of a block factory, Sulaiman Ibrahim , said the increase in price of cement has affected the number of blocks he produces and sell daily.
Ibrahim explained that, “A six-inch block was N160 and a nine-inch was N180, but now we sell at N200 and N220 respectively.”
He said the development has affected sales volume as those who used to buy over 5,000 blocks in a day had reduced the number to about 500 due to the hike in cement price and consequently the hike in the price of concrete blocks.
He added, “I still try to produce the same quantity as before even though I am not selling much. I have two block factories, but I stopped production in one of them, and this is affecting not only me but also some of my workers that have been asked to go.”
Another retailer at Asa – Dam Road who simply identified himself as Ijesha, said he was surprised at the rate of increase in the prices of the products in the country.
According to him, a bag of Dangote Cement is sold at N3,900, UNICEM for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement is sold at N3,600.
Ijesha lamented that few individuals were given the opportunity to supply the product and pleaded with suppliers to reduce the prices and make it available for the citizens.
He said the prices may likely crash as the rainy season continues.
By Mike Adeyemi