Some residents of Nigeria’s North-east have attributed the rise in the price of cement to the widening gap between the demand and supply of the product.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa as well as Jigawa, indicated an average of 40 per cent increase in price.
Respondents said several challenges affected production in factories, one of which is the outbreak of COVID-19, thus reducing supply, while demand kept increasing.
Some of the respondents also condemned the activities of middlemen, saying such people, as always, capitalised on the development to further worsen the situation.
They called on the government to intervene by checking the unwholesome activities of some dealers and middlemen.
Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.
A cement dealer at the Gombe main market, Ibrahim Sanusi, described the hike as “outrageous” when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.
Mr Sanusi said in December last year, he bought a bag of Dangote brand for N2,400 and sold it for N2, 500, the same as the Ashaka brand.
“Now, we buy Dangote Cement for N4, 000 from their depot in Gombe and sell for N4, 200, while the company price of Ashaka Cement is N3,900, and the retail price is N4, 000,” he said.
Another dealer in Gombe, Danlami Joshua, said it was possible that the cost of transportation is a factor.
The Chairman of the Gombe State chapter of Blocks Molders Association, Bello Bose, said the hike in price was deliberate, adding that there had been shortage in the supply of particularly Dangote cement in the state.
“Since October 2020, there has been scarcity of cement in Gombe State, and now, the price has been hiked. This, to me, is deliberate,” he insisted.
He added that many of his members would have left the trade if they had alternatives, and therefore called on the government to intervene.
Efforts to secure comment from the management of Ashaka Cement Company in Gombe State on the cause of the price hike, did not produce results.
When contacted, Head of Corporate Communications of the company, Sarki Isa, promised to get back to NAN after consultations with concerned departmental heads, but as at the time of filing the report, there was still no response.
In Bauchi, the Chairman, Railway Cement Depot Cement, Bako Mohammed, said that low production by manufacturers was responsible for the current high price.
Mr Mohammed told NAN that a bag that was sold for N2,500 last year, is now N3,800.
He said that the low production had led to non-supply of the product to some retailers who had paid for it months ago.
According to him, the situation has also forced retailers who have little of it from the old stock, to determine the price.
“When we try to ask questions, the manufacturers would say that the Value Added Tax (VAT) being deducted by the government on the products is too high and that is why they are not producing much.
“Before, we used to go to Ashaka Cement in Gombe State to procure cement, but now, even Ashaka is not producing.
“Now, because of the lack of supply, we do go as far as Obajana in Kogi, or Benue State, to buy the product.
“The situation is worrisome; I had paid for my consignment since November last year but up till now, I am yet to receive my cement,” he lamented.
The chairman also said other circumstances that contributed to the hike in price included cost of transportation, loading and off-loading.
Mr Mohammed suggested that the government should discuss with manufacturers on how to address the problem.
“In the past, the government had done it and the price reduced drastically; the present administration can equally do the same,” he said.
A customer, Abubakar Lawal, who recalled buying a bag of cement at the rate of N2,500 last year, said the same now costs N3,700.
Speaking about the cause of the hike in the price, he said he had been told producers were servicing their machines, as such had stopped production.
“For that reason, production decreased while demand is still the way it used to be, or even higher, resulting in price hike,” he analysed.
A cement dealer in Damaturu, Sama’ila Muhammed, also attributed the price hike to the drastic reduction in supply.
“One of the reasons for the hike is that demand for the product is much higher than the supply of the commodity,” he said.
He called for intervention of the government to close the current gap between demand and supply, just as he argued that an increase in ongoing capital projects nationwide, is another factor.
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