Dangote Cement Plc has stated that all products rolling out from its three cement plants across the country have a minimum of 42.5 grade certification, in line with international standard and quality benchmark.
Reacting at the weekend to the threat by a coalition of civil society groups and professional bodies in the construction industry to lead protests against manufacturers and importers of 32.5 grade cement, the company's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. DVG Edwin, said Dangote Cement's adherence to global best practices informed the production of a minimum of the 42.5 grade cement at all its factories.
Addressing a cross section of the media in Lagos, he said Dangote Cement chose to produce 42.5 cement grade as it is stronger and has better qualities.
According to him, the cement grade possesses higher strength and is rapid-setting, making it the preferred grade among block makers, builders and construction workers.
Explaining why Dangote Cement was laying emphasis on the production of 42.5 cement grade, Edwin said prior to the nation attaining self-sufficiency in cement production, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) stipulated the 42.5 grade as the accepted quality to be imported into the country and all importers had complied.
"Dangote Cement as a responsible market leader has continued to produce 42.5 grade in its three plants, in strict adherence to the stipulations of the SON," he said. He however wondered why SON had insisted on 42.5 grade as the standard for imports and then allowed a lower grade for local production.
"How come during the import era, we were all compelled by the regulatory authorities to bring in the 42.5 grade and now since 2012 when importation was banned, the same regulatory authorities condoned the production of 32.5 grades, which is a lower grade," he stated.
Also reacting to claims by a cross section of cement manufacturers that the root cause of building collapse was not as a result of cement quality but poor the quality of materials used, especially the 32.5 cement grade by builders, Edwin stressed that the best way of ensuring safety in the construction industry was to insist on 42.5 as the grade to be produced and used in Nigeria.
He explained that after seminars and training to educate builders on how to use 32.5 cement grade in building, the unscrupulous ones among them still cut corners to cheat on quality.
"This incidence of building collapse will be greatly reduced if we adhere to uniform quality specification, leaving no opportunity for manipulations," he contended.
On the claims by some cement manufacturers that switching over to 42.5 grade would impact negatively on their profit margins, he debunked the claim, stating that producing the grade would lead to a marginal cost increase and should be seen as a patriotic gesture to stem the tide of building collapse.
"We place a high premium on human lives and not cost. Nothing on earth can be substituted for human lives. Those arguing that migrating from 32.5 to 42.5 would erode their profit margins are insincere and selfish as human lives are more important than profits," he stressed.
As part of measures to promote best practices in the building industry, Edwin said Dangote Cement in the past two years had held several training and demonstration forums with block makers across the nation to educate them on how to achieve premium results using the 42.5 cement grade, making the exercise a permanent feature in the company's operations.
Giving a breakdown of the different grades of cement available, he noted that 92 per cent of Portland cement produced in the United States (US), are in 52.5 and 42.5 grades, while imported cement from China, Japan, Denmark and Paris are all 42.5 grade.
He said: "Over 90 per cent of consumers are not aware of the different types of cement available in Nigeria. Their expectations in respect to the performance of cement are the same regardless of the type.
"The grade (quality) of concrete to be used may allow 32.5 grade cement for certain construction work such as pavements, rendering (plastering) and culverts but would demand 42.5 grade cement for structures, columns, bridges and multi-storeyed buildings."
A coalition of civil society groups and professional bodies in the construction industry are set to launch a major campaign for the standardisation of the manufacturing and importation of the product.
The coalition, according to reports last week, has called on the relevant authorities to initiate action to make the 42.5 grade of cement the standard product in Nigeria.