Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nigeria Can Avoid Building Collapse –Attah

By Agbo-Paul Augustine

Mohammed Attah is the National Coordinator of Standards Awareness Group and member, National Technical Committee on Standards in Nigeria which is in the process of raising five million voices against sub-standard products in Nigeria. He bares his mind to AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE on the crisis of cement grading and building collapse in Nigeria.

Can you give us the background to the current cement crisis in the country?

Many Nigerians are out of the box largely due to the inability of the regulators and manufacturers to come to terms over a period of time and advised Nigerians adequately on the usage of cement. The issue actually started when Nigeria was recording high number of building collapses. We had the highest number then in Lagos followed by Port Harcourt and Abuja. Stakeholders largely consumers were affected and they rose-up from a meeting with a formal protest to the regulator which is Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) that something need to be done urgently.

That material used in building is the cause of some of the building collapse in the country and needs to be investigated. As a fact, they pointed directly at cement because for them they don’t believe that things like iron rods and other materials are responsible. They believed that for a building to collapse it must be that cement formation is not holding other particles well. The agitation began and SON conducted its facts for a period of one year leading to the meeting of the technical committee on standards.

In March, 2014 the technical committee met and with all stakeholders in the cement industry and the regulators, the academia, civil society organisations and consumer protection council. Prior to that meeting, we had received a 14-page memo on cement and building collapse in Nigeria as well as a review of cement status across the world.

After that meeting we are all agreed that there is no cement that is produced in Nigeria that is sub-standard. However, it was agreed that the problem is that cement has different grades and each grades are applicable to one purpose or the other but that is what the consumers were not aware of and largely responsible for building collapse in Nigeria.

If you use cement that is meant for only plastering for block making, there will be problem or you use cement that is meant for block making for concreting there will problem. We analysed and concluded that the regulator need to do more in conjunction with the manufacturers to ensure that the public is aware and can begin to use it effectively without much of building collapse.

But some of the cement companies are protesting the classification of cement into usages since there are no clear signs on the bags?

That is where the problem is and that is why we are involve in informing Nigerians of the different types of cements, their grades and applications. Let me clearly tell you that there are three different types of cements in use worldwide. That is the 32.5 mpa, 42.5 mpa and 52.5 mpa earlier we had 22.5 mpa that was being used for light concrete.

Experts within the industry that are also part of the technical committee came up with the view that globally there is a shift in the usage of cement. There was an advice that we should have a centrally accepted cement that can be used for all purposes and that rather than shifting up or down, the country should stay in the middle so that it can get result. That was when it was agreed of the grade of cement to be use. But first we must identify these cements and their usage based on the contents. The experts came out and say that the 32.5 had been reviewed and scientific evidence showed it can only be used for plastering and other light blocking while 42.5 is for all purposes because it can be used for plastering, block moulding, concreting and high-rise building. While on the other hand, 52.5 can be used for density work like bridges etc. The position we are maintaining is that the wrong mix of these various grades of cement will also affect buildings in the sense that whether you are using any of the grades for your construction work and is not mixed well with sands or water there is likely going to be problem. It was agreed by the National Technical Committee on Standard that all the manufacturers should go back and begin to label their product to the grades and their usages.

Has that directive been followed by cement manufacturers in the country?

We have not seen anyone that has abused it yet except of course we also know that some cement manufacturers have taken the case to court because in their own estimation, the process was not followed in declaring the grades according to what was agreed upon. But ours is to look at the issues involved and make presentation.

In your opinion, what do think are their fears?

The fear is that some manufacturers over time have been producing 32.5 mpa cement. For them to shift to multipurpose cement they have to upgrade. The cost of upgrading may have scared some them but scientifically, it has been proved that it does not cost much to upgrade except of course the issue of patriotism comes in. That was why when we went to the National Assembly for presentation before the Adhoc Committee on Cement and Pigmentation; I told the chairman that the issue is separating business from patriotism. The committee now declared that 32.5 should be phased-out of the market and maintain only 42.5 mpa. The National Assembly’s position was even worse than the recommendations we made earlier.

Ours is that 32.5, 42.5 and 52.5 grades of cement have different usages. We should identify what each stands for and brand them as well. That was what we recommended and the council also presented same.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EPA meets FERMA on Okene-Lokoja road

- It is a timely visit, FERMA Chairman.
- Politicians made false claims, findings revealed.

By Ismail M. Kabir
Dr. Adeiza delivering his remark
The Ebira Peoples’ Association (EPA) has led a delegation to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) over the sorry state of the Okene-Lokoja highway.

The visit, led by Dr. Abdulrahman Adeiza, the National President of EPA took place today, Wednesday October 28th, 2014 at the headquarter of the road maintenance agency in Wuse II, Abuja with a view to drawing the attention of the agency to the socio-economic challenges posed to the nation by the incessant traffic jam caused by the damaged section of the road especially as the yuletide period approaches.

The chairman of FERMA, Engr. Jide Adeniyi while receiving the delegation in his office thanked EPA for rising up to the challenge, describing the gesture as patriotic.

Dr. Adeiza highlighted the hardship faced by members of the community since the traffic gridlock surfaced on the road for the past weeks.

“We got to the point of standstill on the road when commuters spent days on the traffic. Perishable goods were destroyed due to the long delay on transit while the community lost two people to horrible accidents on the traffic”, Dr. Adeiza said.

He added that the appeal for FERMA’s intervention became urgent as drivers’ union in the area were getting agitated.

“We fear the possibility of uprising by the drivers and the youth in the area if the unbearable gridlock witnessed on the road some days ago repeats itself”, Dr. Adeiza submitted, noting the near break down of law and order noticed in the previous congestion on the road.

In his response, Engr. Adeniyi assured the delegation of his commitment to urgently address the situation while acknowledging the avoidable blockage that may be witnessed on the damaged highway throughout the festive season. 

“This is an urgent situation that requires proactive measures to forestall possible gridlock in December period”, Engr. Adeniyi said, reminding the delegation of the funding challenge currently faced by the agency but promised to do everything possible to fix the road ahead of December.

In a swift phone call placed by the chairman to the Kogi state office of the agency, a coordinator from the Lokoja office confirmed the heavy damage on the road and further informed the chairman of the thorough survey recently conducted by his team on the length of the affected section of the highway which was put at 9.7KM.

He, however, informed the chairman that a proposed rehabilitation project in Borno state has been re-allocated to Kogi state over the current insecurity in the North-Eastern Nigeria, a development that presented a breakthrough for the Okene-Lokoja highway.

Engr. Adeniyi then congratulated the delegation for what he termed a divine intervention. He expressed hope that re-construction work may soon commence on the road.

The delegation comprised Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, Dr. Abdulrahman Adeiza of EPA, Muhammed Attah of Kogi Central CSOs Network, Alhaji Abu Imam of Proudly Anebira, Adayi Alhaji Isah Ademoh of Club 10 and Ismail M. Kabir of EbiraView Media.

EPA Delegation with FERMA Chairman
False claims by our elected officers
Contrary to earlier reports attributed to some Ebira elected officers who claimed that following their meeting with the Minister of Works that the CGC Construction Company was directed to move to the site, the situation on the dilapidated road has since degenerated as no repair work has been noticeable on the damaged spots.

The youths we met working on the road as contained in our earlier report turned out to be Tipper Drivers whose intervention freed the road of the initial gridlock.

Our findings also revealed that the bulldozer sighted in the area during our assessment visit did not belong to CGC Construction Company as earlier reported, but it was a Lagos-bound earth moving equipment that was stuck in the congestion. 

The bulldozer later assisted the volunteers in facilitating its own passage out of the long traffic, our finding has revealed.

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