Nigerians have blamed producers for the scarcity and escalating price of cement nationwide.
Some residents of Kano and Katsina States said the situation had affected building projects and left bricklayers redundant.
Alhaji Kabiru Idi, a building contractor in Kano, said he had delayed some of his projects due to high cost of building materials.
“I want to continue but I had to stop because of the high cost of building materials, including cement, ” he explained.
According to him, a bag of cement which cost between N2,650 and N2,750 in 2020 is now sold for N3,650 and N3,750.
Idi added that the situation had forced many people to change their construction plans or suspend the project.
Another contractor, Suraj Najeem, said that he had to review a contract he had with a company because of the high cost of materials particularly cement.
Najeem explained that some block industries had since reduced the quality of their blocks in an attempt to make profit.
Ado Bala, who is building his personal house at Medile area of Kano, said he had taken a break due to high cost of cement and other building materials.
“The government needs to find a way to help us, so that the poor can own their houses,” he said.
Bala said a six-inch block, which was sold between N110 and N120 is now sold for N130 and N140 while a nine-inch block is sold at N180 and N190, as against N160.
Musa Saleh, a cement dealer, attributed the rise in the price of cement to scarcity of the product.
“Some shops were without a single bag of cement due to the fluctuation in price and scarcity of the product,” he said
Sale also accused some of the cement companies of creating artificial scarcity, alleging that the products are being diverted to neighboring countries.
In Katsina, retailers selling a bag of cement at N2,600 before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, now sell it at between N3,500 and N3,700.
The retailers blamed the situation to the scarcity of the product, alleging that major cement manufacturers had reduced their production.
According to them, major manufacturers involved are Dangote, BUA and Sokoto cement.
Alhaji Abubakar Aminu, a cement dealer in Katsina, claimed that the companies had cut down their production during the COVID-19 lockdown and since then, the supply and price have remained unstable.
Aminu said that some of the companies had adopted new policies that made access to the product difficult for most cement dealers.
According to him, Dangote, which is the major cement producer in Nigeria, now sell cement only to major dealers, unlike before when the company deal with both major and small dealers.
“In the past, what you need to do is to open an account with the company and deposit money for few trucks of cement depending on your capacity.
“Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the price was stable and the product was available almost everywhere in the country.
“As a result of that policy, small dealers no longer have access to buying cement directly from the manufacturer.
“If you want to remain in business, you have to buy from major dealers who determine the market price.
“The major dealers sell it to small dealers above the original company price, while the small dealers sell it to consumers at a price higher than what was obtainable before,” he said.
He said that the manufacturers have not increased the price of the products in reality, but their new policies led to the present increase in the price of cement nationwide.
Aminu said that unless the companies reverse the policy, Nigerians would continue to buy cement at a high price.