Senate to probe hike in cement, building materials prices

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The Senate on Wednesday resolved to probe the increase in the prices of cement and other building materials in the country, just as it urged the Federal Government to allow the importation of the commodity as a stop-gap measure.

Consequently, the Red Chamber directed its Committee on Industries, chaired by Senator Francis Fadahunsi (APC, Osun East), to investigate the activities of cement manufacturing industries operating within the country to ascertain whether market manipulation or monopolistic practices are the reasons behind the price hike.

It also mandated the committee to ensure that cement manufacturing companies adhere strictly to fair market practices and desist from anti-competitive prices.

These resolutions followed a motion titled “Need to urgently address the increase in cement prices and other building materials in Nigeria,” sponsored by the Senate Deputy Leader, Senator Oyelola Ashiru (APC, Kwara South), during plenary.

Ashiru, who came in under Order 42 on Personal Explanation, said that the construction industry was vital for infrastructure development, and economic growth heavily relies on cement and other building materials for its sustenance.

He expressed worry that the recent trend of an almost daily increase in the price of the product has severely hampered progress in various developmental endeavours across the country.

The lawmaker said that key building materials, particularly cement and iron rods, are now sold at prohibitive rates, with cement and iron rods recently rising from N5,500 per bag in January 2024 to about N14,000 and N8,500 to N17,000, respectively.

He expressed worry that the sudden and steep price increase is having a detrimental impact on critical infrastructure, housing and ‘our own constituency projects across the country.”

Ashiru, who noted that raw materials for cement are sourced 100 per cent locally not imported, said the sudden surge in prices is suspicious and perplexing.

He said: “Cognisant that affordable cement and other building are indispensable to national development, addressing the issue in time will be advantageous to the construction industry because it will ensure the progress of constituency project and strengthen national security by providing jobs and stability and improve the livelihood of Nigerians generally.”

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