The National Chairman of Cement Producers’ Association of Nigeria (CEPAN), Prince David Iweta, has said the body is ready to assist the Federal Government in crashing the price of cement within 30 days if brought in as part of efforts to bring solution.

Iweta, who gave the assurance in an exclusive chat with the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday, attributed the continued rise in the price of the commodity to the challenge of demand for the commodity far outweighing its supply in the sector and not because of any foreign exchange factor as being touted in some quarters.

According to him, the association had foreseen the present development and had warned the Federal Government of the implications and the likely consequences of saddling a privileged few with the task of producing and catering for the cement needs of over 200 million people.

“What we are seeing today is a case of demand clearly outweighing supply and we in the association knew it would come to this because there is no way the few players in the industry can meet the cement needs of Nigerians.

“If you remember, the association had earlier warned, even when the commodity was still as low as N3,000 that in the nearest future, it would sell for as high as N9,000 if certain steps were not taken. Why we were saying that then was to ginger the government to take action and avert this mess that we are all in today,” he said.

On what could be done in the immediate to reverse the present situation, the CEPAN boss advised the Federal Government to revisit the late President Umar Yar’Adua’s Backward Integration Policy, which licensed some other players in the industry to import the commodity but was scuttled by those he called ‘selfish’ few in the sector.

“In a bid to address the supply gap then, the late President Yar’Adua had given import licences to some manufacturers in the sector to import the commodity for a certain period of time before developing the financial muscles to be able to produce here. This was meant to bridge the noticeable supply gap in the sector then. But this was scuttled by the cabals in the sector then.

“The way out in the immediate for the Federal Government is to revisit that policy, otherwise the price will keep rising since it is obvious that these few players cannot cope with the demands of Nigerians,” he added.

Iweta stated further that efforts by the association at getting audience with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Presidency to make its position known on the issue in the past had been rebuffed.

“But the fact remains that we are still very much open and ready to help government in addressing the situation and crash this exorbitant price in 30 days,” he submitted.

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