The price of cement in the South-South and neighboring states tumbles as Ibeto Cement Company resumes production in Port Harcourt.
Construction companies and individuals, who have been worried over the rising cost of cement in the South-South zone and neighboring states, may now have cause to smile. This is because the price of cement has crashed following the resumption of cement production at Ibeto Cement Company.
A bag of cement which sold for N1,550. in retail shops last month, now sells for N1,400. There were indications last week that the price of the product would continue to fall.
The price of cement continued to be on the increase in the country all through the last administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. This became worse following the clamp down on Ibeto Cement Company a few years ago by the Obasanjo administration.
The cement bagging plant located at Bundu Ama in the Port-Harcourt metropolis was closed down for more than two years. But shortly after Umaru Yar’Adua took over as president of the country, he ordered the re-opening of the cement company which was closed down for no justifiable reason.
The result of the Yar’Adua’s acton has led to the crashing price of cement in the whole of South-South zone and the neighbouring states.
Clement Madubugwu, chairman, Ibeto Group Limited, has promised that the company would soon flood the market with cement. The situation no doubt would bring about continued fall in the price of the product to the admiration of Nigerians.
The chairman said the first consignment of 35,000 metric tonnes bulk cement has already arrived on board Medi Osaka, a 53, 000 depth weight vessel, from Indonesia . The next consignment would be delivered in a few days’ time.
Madubugwu gave the indication recently at the resumption of bagging of cement at the company’s multi-billion Naira facility at Bundu Ama. According to him, since President Yar’Adua ordered the resumption of work at the plant, its engineers have been working round the clock to make the machines functional and operational.
The chairman said he would keep faith with the promise to Yar’Adua that he would not only flood the market with cement, but would move from bagging of cement to production of the product in the company’s factory with limestone. He said it is possible for Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in cement production, but that it would not be very soon because of all that is involved. Madubugwu said it would still take sometime before the country would stop the importation of bulk cement, because according to him, "building a cement factory is not a day’s job."
Before now Ibeto Cement Company was among the three cement bagging companies operating in Rivers State. The other companies are Dangote Group, producers of Dangote Cement, and the Eastern Bulkcem Company, producers of Eagle Cement. But the fortunes of Ibeto nose-dived, following the clamp down on the company by Obasanjo, a situation that gave the other companies the monopoly of cement market in the region. This was also to the disadvantage of the consumers, as the price of the product continued to rise.
The joy of management and staff of the Ibeto Group knew no bounds when the ban on the cement company was lifted by the present administration. Only recently, the staff numbering more than one thousand went wild in a jubilant, peaceful demonstration following the restart of the plants of the company for the resumption of production. They were full of enthusiasm, and praised the President for hearing their cries by re-opening the company for business.
Williams Adah, chairman, Bundu Ama, the host community to Ibeto Cement Company, condemned the preferential treatment given to some investors by the Obasanjo administration. Adah, who is also the state secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Rivers State, described the closure of the company as an economic crime for which the perpetrators should be brought to book.
The labour leader noted that the resumption of work at the cement plant had brought joy to the community, as indigenes are engaged in direct and indirect employment in the company. He, however, advised the company not to compromise on the issue of staff welfare, as well as avoid the temptation of intimidating and harassing its employees. In the same vein, he admonished the staff and management to dialogue on labour issues and promised that the NLC would ensure the company enjoys a harmonious and conducive working environment.