Cement scarcity is set to hit the Nigerian market following the stoppage of production at the major bagging plants around Apapa.
The stoppage of production is due to the action of the Nigerian Navy which imposed a blockade on the supply of bulk cement to the bagging plants.
Amongst the affected cement producers are industry giant Dangote Cement, Magen-Roi and Gateway Mining. These firms had been effectively denied access to their bulk supplies since the beginning of this week.
Due to the topography of the waterways, importers of bulk cement are compelled to discharge their ships at Commodore Pool, from where barges move the cement to the bagging plants.
That had long been the final leg of the supply chain for the bagging plants. The Navy, which controls Commodore Pool, suddenly stopped cement vessels from discharging there, citing pollution as reason.
The operators of the bagging plants are concerned that the Navy can take such drastic actions without considering the implications for the larger economy, the investments in the plants and the associated jobs.
“May be the Navy needs to be reminded that due process abhors such arbitrary and costly actions,” a source at one of the affected firms observed.
Another source wondered whether the Navy is prepared to pay the reparations that may be ordered if it is sued for unlawful restraint of trade.
As at press time, the reaction of the government to this development was still being awaited.