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SON institutes technical committee on cement standardization

by Business News Report

The Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr Joseph Odumodu has revealed that the organisation has instituted a technical committee of experts to look into the challenges facing operators in the building construction industry.

The move is the latest in the efforts of the organization to ensure quality of products and safeguard lives and property in the country.

Odumodu who had an interaction with business editors said the committee of well-informed individuals would take a holistic look on the quality building materials in the country inclusive of cement, saying the agency had never, and would never leave the quality of any product to the whims of any individual or operators.

He however stated that issue of standardsisation could not be left in the hands of any agency alone, concerted duty given that standardization is life and affects everyone in the society.

According to him, also necessary in the efforts is the input of other stakeholders in the country including related regulatory agencies, civil society groups, manufacturers, the academia and consumers.


 “This technical committee is not chaired by SON, we are just a secretariat and it is what the committee arrives at that would be taken to the council of SON and once it is approved, it becomes a standard. Let me also state that a standard is not enforceable except the minister of industry, trade and investment designate it as a mandatory standard,” he added.

He said while manufacturers are mandated to comply with specifications of the standards, he added that consumers themselves needed to play their own parts as is the case elsewhere in the world where consumers mandates standard.

According to him, Nigeria has two grades of cement with various degrees of strength which includes 32.5 and 42.5 pointing out that the public is not even aware of the variety in grades, standards and specific applications of cement.

He said what most people are aware are the brand names, whereas the grades are equally important.

This ignorance he added has led to the misapplication of cement by many users, citing the point that some people for reasons of personal gain may utilize just one bag of cement for as much as 50 to 80 bags, rather than between 25 and 30 bags.

Odumodu stressed that despite the fact that cement at the point of manufacture could meet the required standard, but that it could become a problem when it overstays before use.

“It is important to state this fact  that cement has a life span and if it stays beyond the life span, it would fail to meet its standards parameters.”, Odumodu said, adding that it may not necessarily be the issue of quality at this point, but the manner of storage.  

On the fact that there are different grades of cement, he added: “More surprisingly, many acclaimed experts in the sector are also not aware of these cement varieties and standards. This low level of awareness has contributed to the wide spate of building collapse, as well as avoidable hazards in the construction sector,” he said.

He said according to existing standards, the 32.5 grade is suitable for plastering, block making and light concrete activities while others (42.5 and 52.5) are suitable for heavy concretes, flyovers and marine constructions, among others.

“the point is, if you use a grade meant for one aspect of construction for another aspect, there would be problem. And those are some of the areas we are devoting attention”, adding that it is on that basis that the agency is on continued surveillance of and collaboration with operators where necessary.

Enumerating the several efforts and intervention of his agency, he reiterated that the federal government is concerned about the spate of building collapse in the country and is currently exploring several initiatives in order to arrest the trend.

The SON he added has taken the initiative of ensuring that a sanitization of the economy of those products which pose problems of standards.

 “The agency has fully sanitised the cables, aluminum roofing sheets and steel rods segments to ensure conformity with globally accepted standards. Focus is now on the cement sector. We have toured cement plants and held several meetings with participants, such as block manufacturers.” Odumodu added.

Odumodu said SON is currently carrying out block testing activities in some major parts of the country and has also been having consultative meetings with the chief executive officers of local cement companies, in a bid to find lasting solution to the controversy over the use of 32.5 cement grade in the country.

He said SON would continue to collaborate with block moulders in the country, especially in areas of training and certification in order to sanitise the construction industry and also said it would advertise only certified brick makers in areas where they operate so as to that only those certified are patronised.

SON is currently discussing with the ministry of works about resurrecting a building code in Nigeria adding that this would go a long way in addressing the issue of building collapse in the country.

On the other hand, he added, the agency is also discussing with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to work out a programme of training people in the society and eventually certifying them where necessary

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