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Inflation: Let’s deregulate cement industry in Nigeria now – Elerewe, MD/CEO AIBEN Group

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Inflation: Let’s deregulate cement industry in Nigeria now – Elerewe, MD/CEO AIBEN Group

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With the recent increment in the prices of cement across the country, Chief Andy Elerewe, immediate past Vice President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, REDAN and MD/ CEO AIBEN Group of Companies has called on the Federal Government to urgently deregulate the cement industry.

Elewere, a major player in the Real Estate Sector, said the cement industry is highly monopolised and is long over due for deregulation.

According to him, “As it is now , people should be allowed to bring in cement if they have the capacity to do so. We can not continue to deal with some few people who will continue to hold us in captivity. This is a very serious matter that the government should look into. We want a highly deregulated industry where cement will be brought in from anywhere around the world. Government can help from the angle of ensuring that Standard organization of Nigeria (SON) as an organization will continue to control it and ensure that there is no fake product and the right materials are being used and brought into the country. What is important is that the monopoly must stop.

Speaking further on the current surge in cement, Elerewe said, “We cannot over emphasized it, the issue of cement is becoming essentially very toxic in the industry, and for me, I think the government is not taking the case seriously as they should. If they don’t and this thing get out of hand, I wonder where we are going to be very soon. Cement is a very critical component of construction. It must be deregulated. If you check the prices of cement in other countries compared to what we have here in Nigeria, and again, it is shameful that we have the raw materials used in producing cement here in Nigeria , yet the price of cement is high here. The increment in cement price is unacceptable and it showed that the government is not serious with the issues within the housing sector.

“We have heard severally where the manufacturers will tell us the wholesaler is responsible and the wholesaler will also tell us the manufacturer is responsible, what is important is that cement must be deregulated. We have gotten to the level where cement can be brought into the country by whoever can afford it. The manufacturer want to maximize profits as business men but there are some certain things that should be looked at from the social angle, you cannot create price that will be essentially unaffordable by the masses. The increment of cement has a multiplier effect on almost every thing in the industry. It has effect on the cost of housing itself, those who are buying the houses and the cost of renting as well.

“My message to the wholesalers is that what goes around comes around, and also for the cement manufacturers they can talk to us directly. We have the capacity to buy cement in any quantity. Let’s call a spade a spade . It is time for us to do the right thing as it is now, the masses are suffering and the prices keeps going up. We ,as a developer has continued to produce affordable housing at our own detriment, so I call on the manufacturers to deal with the developers directly, what is important is for us is to get cement at a price that is workable and at such that will ensure building is kept at a price that is affordable for everyone.

“We don’t seem to understand how important the housing industry is. We are one of the largest employer of labour and we have even undocumented labourers on site, personally I have close to 2000 workers working on one of my site. So, if this continues, there is a tendency that we may even shut down and you know how many people will go into the labour market. As it is now, we all must come together and put aside sentiments , let’s find a way to resolve this situation.”