MONTHS after Dangote promoted the much-anticipated N1,000 cement, the product is still nowhere to be found, even as the price of cement has hit the roof.
From ENCOMIUM Weekly’s market survey, a bag of cement now sells for between N1,900 and N2,000. It even goes for N2,200 in some parts of the country.
ENCOMIUM Weekly, however, learnt from industrial experts that it won’t be possible for any brand of cement to sell for N1,000, given the state of the economy at the moment.
Even the time Dangote promoted the controversial N1,000 cement, it would have been impossible to sell at that ridiculous price to retailers. The high price affects major brands like Dangote, Elephant, Eagle and Ibeto cements.
Eagle Cement, which is not readily available and Ashaka found mainly in the Northern part of the country are the least priced. The brands sell for about N1,800.
Hopes that the so-called Dangote’s N1,000 cement would check the rising cost of cement, has since been dashed as dealers actually prefer the grades of products that guarantee more profit.
Interestingly, those willing to sell or buy the N1,000 cement also complain they are not available in the market.
Meanwhile, Dangote Cement said it has more than enough of the product to meet the needs of Nigerians. Stating this in an exclusive phone interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Monday, February 23, 2015, the company’s spokesman, Mr. Tony Chiejina said they have the most affordable quality cement in the market. “We still sell the highest quality and cheapest cement in the market. The N1,000 32.5 SON graded product is very much available. While the 42.5 graded ones are also trading fast because of its high demand for more serious construction works.”
Asked why some dealers sell above the recommended price of N1,750, Mr. Chiejina blamed it on middlemen.
Dangote Cement, sometime last year, announced a record reduction in the price of their products. According to the company, back then, ordinary Nigerians’ need for cheap and quality cement would be met in a matter of days. They also promised to make the products available. But months after Dangote’s promise, not a few are complaining bitterly about non-availability of the essential building material whose cost has now gone up astronomically.
Dealers were not even buying it at N1,000 after VAT, transport and other logistics. The situation is worse now with the rising exchange rate and the sense of uncertainty pervading the economy. So, it won’t make economic sense to sell below the cost of production.
Another reason Nigerians can’t buy cement at N1,000 is the seeming rejection of the new product by builders. The 32.5 grade is mainly for plastering and building construction jobs that don’t require casting. The implication is that builders prefer the 42.5 SON-graded cement which sells a little above the lower grade. There is equally the 52.5 grade which is used for hardcore construction jobs.
We have also been told that greed on the part of big-time dealers wouldn’t allow them sell at N1,000 even if the product meets the required construction standard. Their activities are indeed the major cause of the current high cost of cement.
– UCHE OLEHI