Block manufacturers under the auspices of the National Block Moulders Association of Nigeria (NBMAN) have jacked up the price of sandcrete blocks by 40 per cent. Consequently, 90 by 120 inches block now sell for N210 from N150, while sandcrete block of 60 x 90 inches now sells at N185 instead of N130.
This is coming barely one week after the price of a bag of 50 kilogramme of cement was suddenly increased from N1,700 to N2, 300 by manufacturers. Similarly, it is coming one week before the end of the two-week ultimatum issued to the Federal Government by the Lagos State Bricklayers Association to take urgent steps to force down prices of cement.
Sandcrete block is a composite material made up of cement, sand and water, moulded into different sizes for building production. However, survey shows that many block moulders have commenced implementation of the new price regime, while a few are still waiting for further directive.
A block producer in Magboro, Ogun State, Alhaji Sulaimon Omolade, said his blocks now sell for between N180 and N210, depending on customers. He explained that it would be difficult for any block manufacturer to price below N180 if he wants to continue in business. Another commercial block moulder in Ojodu, Lagos, who identified himself simply as Baba Ahmed, said: “I have increased the price of 90 x120 inches and 60 x120 inches blocks to N200 and N180 since last week.”
Speaking with this newspaper, President, Association of Building Artisans of Nigeria, Prince Jimmy Oshinubi, who confirmed the development, said that the decision to jack up prices of sandcrete blocks by 40 per cent, was arrived at after rigorous deliberations and research by the association’s executives.
Moreover, Oshinubi said the decision to increase sandcrete blocks’ prices was also to prevent sharp practices among block moulders, which could lead to production of sub-standard materials by members. To forestall that, he hinted that the association had raised a team of task force to monitor the sub-sector in order to ensure production of quality blocks.
The president lamented that major increase in the prices of cement is affecting the housing sector badly, adding that block moulders and home seekers are worst hit. Oshinubi expressed fear that many block moulders, bricklayers and other artisans are going to be thrown out of jobs if nothing is done by the government to reduce prices of cement.
He said attempt to persuade cement manufacturers to reduce their price fell on deaf ears, as they claimed that the current foreign exchange policy and pipelines destruction by militants have increased their cost of production.
An official from Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria attributed recent cement price hike to difficult operating environment, which had led to dwindling capacity utilisation of their plants; disruptions in gas supply; and high cost of Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO), among others.
However, housing experts have predicted hard times for low-income earners seeking a roof over their heads, following the escalating prices of cement and sandcrete blocks. Meanwhile, President of Lagos State Bricklayers Association, Deacon Abel Olukayode, has called on the Federal Government to intervene in reducing the price of cement.
He said one of the fallouts of the development was that many buildings would collapse. “We have been lamenting over rising incidents of building collapse in the country. Are we not going to lose more lives and property, following the astronomical rise in cement price?” he asked.