High cement price: Block manufacturers, bricklayers groan over lack of patronage 

Recent increase in the price of cement is taking another dimension as sandcrete block manufacturers and bricklayers are groaning under lack of patronage.

They lamented that since the increase in the price of a 50-kilogram bag of cement to N3,500 from N2,600, over two months ago,  public patronage of their products and services had dropped significantly, a situation they said was threatening their survival as businessmen and  construction sector artisans.

If the situation persists, they expressed fear of imminent mass unemployment/ job loss in their sub-sector, which will eventually worsening the security situation in the country.

According to the former Chairman, Lagos State Association of Bricklayers, Mr Abel Olusegun Kayode, on Sunday, many bricklayers are currently jobless as home builders/developers have suspended construction works due to cement price hike and lack of money.

Except for contractors of government, he pointed out that there were low building/construction activities across the country.

“Many home builders have suspended construction works. There is no job for bricklayers; building materials› prices are going up; cement price is going up and there is no money in the economy. Only government›s contractors are building.”

Kayode wants the Federal Government to wade in by calling cement manufacturers to reverse the cement price increase to prevent looming unemployment crisis among construction workers.

To guide against unnecessary increase in the price of cement, he urged government to introduce the system of price control on all building materials

Besides, he said it was pathetic that hundreds of his colleagues that even applied for the Federal Government›s Survival Fund in order to keep souls together are yet to be attended to.

Another bricklayer, Mr Ebenezer Ojo, said he was ready to return to Okada ridding business in order to meet the need of his family. According to him, even before the cement price hike, only few individuals were involved in building construction, anticipating fear that the situation would grow worse and  that many bricklayers would be jobless now that a bag of cement has been jacked up to N3,600 and N4,000 in Epe, Lagos.

President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON), Mr Adesegun Banjoko, lamented that his members are currently in serious dilemma due to excessive increase in the price of cement.

“For those whose business is moulding or manufacturing of sandcrete blocks, this is the most difficult period for us,” he said.

According to him, the business of production and sale of blocks at a time like this was a risky venture and a big headache.

Going by various reports from members in different states of the federation, he stated that the news was that some have chosen to practically suspend production.

Where production is not suspended, he said sandcrete block manufacturers only produce on customers› requests, pointing out that ordinary people were not ready to buy blocks at just any price because of scarce resources.

Before the regime of restive high prices, he said that good sandcrete blocks of ”9 x12»  inches were already selling at N250.00 and «6 x 12» at N220.00  in some locations in Lagos «because of  the cost of getting aggregates in such areas apart from cement cost.»

Banjoko called on government to help reduce the price of cement so that those who are struggling to build their houses would not be forced to stop construction work.

If government fails to help in ensuring reduction in the price of cement and people eventually stop on-going construction work, the NABMON president said the effects would make his members suffer poor patronage.

He also complaint about the  general state of insecurity all over the nation that has made  some people run away from their  construction sites  in the wake of ruthless killings or kidnapping for money or rituals.

For this reason, he said many blockmakers preferred to locate their workplaces in developing areas.

“When the owner is far away from site for safety, who looks after his investments made with high price cement? He queried.

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