At a media interaction last week, a director in the Dangote Group, Ekanem Etim said that the company was not in any way, at loggerhead with any manufacture of cement in the country.
According to him, the main thrust of Dangote Group, is to ensure the availability of cement in the country. He was quick to point out, that the company was not responsible for any hike in the price of cement.
His words: ‘Dangote price is advertised. We have not increased the price of our products. Our ex-factory price is N1, 445.00k (One Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Four Naira).The price you see in the market is the retail price which has nothing to do with our price.”
Etim hinted, that the company was planning to add another nine million metric tonne to the existing 20 million metric tonne by August, 2014.
He debunked the allegation that Dangote was trying top create a crisis in the cement industry by insisting, that all manufacturers of cement in the country should be producing 42.5 mpa grade of cement.
According to him, the directive to all manufacturers of cement in the country to produce 42.5 mpa grade of cement was that of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and was endorsed by the Cement Manufacturers of Nigeria (CMAN) of which Lafarge is am member. He was quick to add, that at the meeting where the decision was taken, Lafarge was present.
He said that the usage of whatever brand of cement, should be in line with SON’s prescription. He added that on their part, Dangote deserves the very best and would not lower standards.
He debunked the insinuation that Dangote was monopolising the cement industry, adding that Lafarge had been operating in Nigeria since the 1950’s.
He wondered why anybody should be accusing Dangote of monopolising the industry since in his words ‘we only started operations in the country less than eight years ago.
Etim said that all Dangote was asking of other manufacturers of cement in the country is to comply with SON’s directive that the grade of cement to be produced, should be the 42.5 mpa grade.
He pointed out, that Lafarge’s products were not being demarketed because in his words, Lafarge has the capacity to switch over.
Etim said that this entire name calling should stop.
He asked ‘why should we lower the standard of cement grade in Nigeria’. He urged SON to ‘without further delay’, implement the 42.5mpsa grade of cement He was quick to add, that all the existing cement producing companies in the country, have the capacity to switch over from the 32.5 mpa grade to 42.5mpa.
According to him, Dangote was not prepared to lower the statndard, pointing out, that if other cement manufacturers decide to stay with 32.5 grade of cement, they were at liberty to do so.
Etim urged SON to ‘without further delay’ implement the 42.5 grade because all the existing cement producing companies have the capacity to switch over.
He pointed out, that hitherto, all companies that were importing cement into the country, were bringing in 42.5 grades, wondering why it is now that they were producing it locally, that they have decided to stick to 32.5 grade of cement.
According to him, the 32.5 grade of cement, were mainly meant for plastering, while the 42.5 grade is meant for general; purpose, pointing out, that the 52.5 cement grade was essentially for the construction of bridges, dams.He was quick to add, that the company produces the 52.5 grade of cement but only on request.
However, a top official of Lafarge Cement WAPCO Plc who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that nobody was accusing Dangote of fueling the crisis in the cement industry.
According to him, Lafarge as a major manufacturer would equally not want to lower standards in the quality of its products. He was quick to add, that the 32.5 mpa grade of cement that is being produced by the company was of very high quality.
He noted that in as much as the company has the capacity to switch over to the 42.5 mpa grade of cement, it would not be stampeded by another competitor to do what that ‘rival company’ wants.
He said that no end-users of the company’s product has ever complained about the quality of Lafarge cement, adding that at the appropriate time,the company would do what if feels it has to do concerning the 42.5mpa grade of cement.