The Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, has intervened in the controversy over the quality of the different grades of cement in the market, saying there is no substandard cement in the market, but that it is being misapplied by users for different purposes.
Odumodu made the clarification in Lagos on Monday during an interaction with journalists, saying that most people only knew the different brands of cement being produced, but were unable to differentiate them on the basis of the functions they were supposed to serve.
He said the 32.5, 42.5 and 52.5 grades of cement were supposed to be used for different purposes.
According to him, while the first is essentially for block making and plastering purposes, the 42.5 grade is suitable for heavy concrete, high rise structures, bridges, flyovers and marine construction, adding that ignorance of the different uses usually led to abuse.
Odumodu said his interaction with some of the people who used cement showed that even professionals who had been in the building industry for about 20 years might not understand the different grades of the product, adding that problems could also arise when cement was unduly exposed.
According to him, an undue exposure to the elements can diminish the quality of cement and give a false impression that its quality is low at the point of manufacture.
He said in a bid to correct the misconceptions about the quality of the product, SON had been holding stakeholder sensitisation meetings with operators in the building construction sector, including regular training of block makers.
He said aside the issue of ignorance on the use of cement, greed and corruption were other problems in the sector.
“Cement has a life span and if it goes beyond the life span, it will fail to meet its parameters. I want to also state that there is a huge gap between what is put in the market and what the consumer take up,” he said.
Similarly, the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has rejected the claim that poor cement quality is responsible for the increasing cases of building collapse in the country.
The association, in a statement on Monday signed by Ashaka Cement Plc, Lafarge WAPCO Plc, Northern Cement Company of Nigeria, Sokoto, and United Cement Company Plc, Calabar, said attention should rather be on the need to improve construction practices.
“The Nigerian cement industry is one of the most modern in Africa, with new technology and capacity recently installed. Cement quality conforms to the highest international standards and the industry is constantly working with the regulatory authorities (SON) to ensure up-to-date testing, certification of products and quality norms,” the association said.
It added that the cement industry in the country was committed to the sustainability of construction and share public concern regarding the menace of building collapse.
The association’s reaction follows the recent outburst by a civil rights organisation that substandard cement was the cause of the increasing cases of building collapse in the country.