Coalition to launch campaign for standardisation of cement
A BIG battle – standar-disation of cement production and importation – is on the way in the construction industry.
Leading the battle are major civil society groups and professionals, who will be pushing for 42.5 grade of cement as the standard product in Nigeria.
The main aim, The Nation learnt yesterday, is to tackle building collapse – a phenomenon that has killed thousands.
The lower grade cement (32.5) is common in Nigeria – no thanks to weak regulation. The popular thinking is that the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) seems not to be doing enough.
The battle plan includes:
•pushing for the National Assembly to probe manufacturers and importers for compromising standards;
•enlisting the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to give SON a wake-up call;
•enforcing the National Building Code; and
•enlisting the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) in fighting sub-standard cement.
The coalition of civil society groups is to confront the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) for what it called the poor standard of local and imported cement.
To the activists, standard should not give way in the face of monetary gains – to the detriment of lives.
According to them, in the advanced countries, the lower grade cement (32.5) is being dumped for the higher level (42.5) “and even 52.5”.
“With a uniform standard set by government, manufacturers and importers can be held accountable whenever there is infraction or reduction in agreed specification,” they said.
The coalition’s spokesperson, Mr. Tunde Ojo, blamed the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, for what he described as complicity with manufacturers and vowed to mobilise block makers nationwide against manufacturers and importers of poor quality cement. He did not, however, name them.
In a working document titled: Cement: Standardisation, safety versus affordability and poor quality, the coalition writes:
“How do you identify good quality cement; is it by the manufacturer’s name or by its composition or pigmentation, if you like? Many a people, whether literate or not, identify cement merely by producer’s name. So, it is common to see most people, builders and non-builders alike, identifying with Eagle Cement, for instance or Elephant Cement or Dangote Cement, Rock Cement, UNICEM, BUA and so on, just to mention but a few. It matters very little to most buyers or customers what the composition or the contents or pigmentation of the cement bag is. For many, what influences what brand of cement to buy is the price and, in most cases, the proximity to the point of usage.
“What that means is that, in a cement market where you have displayed products from Lafarge, Dangote, UNICEM, Ibeto and Northern Cement Company of Nigeria, BUA, Ashaka, for instance, buying anyone as experience has shown, would essentially be a function of price and proximity. Not many, without stretching the argument too far, would be concerned, or are even conscious about quality. To them, they are all cement, the difference perhaps, is that between six and half-a-dozen. But it is beyond that.
“Maintaining standards for all products’ range, there are standards. Cement may not be a drug, but it has fatalistic effects as it happens in bridges and buildings collapse when low quality specimens are used. And this has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria. The unfortunate thing is, those who are charged with the responsibility of investigating these recurring mishaps have never looked the way of the quality of cement used in some of these structures; rather, only the contractors bear the brunt. It is important that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), if they are the ones in charge, should take a closer look at the quality of cement churned out by local manufacturers and also the imported ones as well.”
He went on: “Types of Cement; broadly speaking there are two, or may be three types of cement common in Nigeria. There’s the CEM 1 42.5 R and CEM 1 42.5 N on the one hand; and CEM 32.5 R, on the other hand. Besides, there are variants of these with different specifications. The CEM I 42.5 R and CEM I 42.5 N cements are produced with clinker and limestone in the ration of 95%: 5% respectively. The gypsum that is added during the grounding process is for adjustment of the setting period, which is usually obtained at the end of 28 days.
“Among other applications, this cement is used when good strength concrete is required, especially in concrete productions requiring high strength, or early strength. Also, it is used in production of thin section reinforced concrete and in highly reinforced concrete buildings, among other uses. CEM II 32.5 is suitable for flooring and wall plastering (rendering).”