Bags of cement
Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) Thursday urged the Federal Government to consider the use of cement to build concrete roads in place of the current practice of using laterite and asphalt which have short life-spans.
Chairman of the association, Mr Joseph Makoju, who led a delegation to the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, said although the initial cost of building our roads with concrete cement would be 10-15 per cent higher, it would be cheaper in the long haul.
He dispelled fears that using cement to build concrete roads that will be more durable would lead to a hike in the cost of the product, arguing that on the contrary, it was the bad state of the roads that were responsible for the high cost of cement.
Makoju said with an installed capacity of 28 million metric tonnes and a demand of only 17 million metric tonnes of cement per annum, the availability of locally produced cement could be leveraged in constructing roads that would be longer lasting.
According to him, the projected production capacity of all the cement manufacturing companies in Nigeria for this year was 19 to 20 million metric tonnes, surpassing the current demand.
For that reason, he said, there was no question of prices of cement going up since it was a question of demand and supply.
To underscore how much had been achieved in the last 10 years, Makoju said from two million metric tonnes produced in 2002 when the Obasanjo government decided on backward integration in the industry, cement production locally had risen to about 19 million metric tonnes.
“Nigeria is now a cement-producing country.
“This can be leveraged in road construction. Until now, cement was only an alternative in terms of cost-effectiveness, but in life-cycle, the cost of concrete will be 10 to 15 per cent more expensive but in 25 years, the cost of concrete will be cheaper than asphalt.
“We believe we are now in a position where the cost of cement should come down based on the law of demand and supply,” he said.
He likened it to what happened in the GSM sector where the prices of services were initially high but have since crashed to rock bottom.
To further drive down the cost of the cement that will be required to build concrete roads, the cement manufacturers promised that they could make bulk supplies to contractors building the roads, even if they had to start out as a pilot project.
Speaking through the acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Bala Danshehu, Onolememen had said the Government was constrained to limit its use of cement because of its cost.
“Only in a few cases such as bridges and ports do we use cement,” he stated. “We have a director whose schedule covers construction materials. We’ll ask him to study your proposal… In addition, we are also reviewing our design, so with this presentation, we can see how we can make cement part of our road construction.”