Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives has recommended for an improved grade of the cement to avoid the unwanted cases of building collapse in the country.
To this effect, the lawmakers recommended the usage of 42.5mpa grade cement for standard construction works in Nigeria.
Also, the House called for the creation of a cement fund from contributions of N10 per 50kg bag of cement produced in Nigeria and N20 only per 50kg of cement imported into Nigeria for the establishment of state-of-the-art laboratories in all the geo-political zones within the period of three years.
The recommendation and call followed the adoption of the report of Hon. Yakubu Dogara-led ad hoc committee, which investigated the incidence of collapsed buildings in the country.
Pointing out that this is less susceptible to misapplication as most stakeholders will prefer it to 32.5mpa, the lawmakers noted that this would go a long way to arrest incidences of collapse building in the country.
The cement fund is to be managed by a task force to be set up by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB).
The lawmakers also recommended that the passage of the National Building Code Bill should be expedited and strictly enforced when passed into law to check quackery, use of substandard building materials and to serve as a tool for the regulation of the informal downstream sector of the industry.
The lawmakers urged that SON?s governing council should ensure that all cement manufacturers in Nigeria retool and upgrade their production lines to start producing the 42.5mpa grade within a reasonable time considering the cost of social dislocation.
Other recommendations are that ?all cement packages must clearly and boldly indicate their grades, uses and expiry dates with tamper proofing on the packages to guard against repackaging by middlemen; SON should ensure that all cement distributions withdraw expired cement from their warehouses and markets and destroy them.?
While urging the government to take immediate steps to establish a cement and concrete institute, as is the case in many jurisdictions, the House said government should also revive all technical schools across the country and establish new ones to improve on the pool of qualified artisans and generate skilled as well semi-skilled labour.
It said government should also set up a National Quality Assurance Programme, using designated agencies and some professional bodies to regularly test samples of cement produced before they are sold in the open market.
Meanwhile, the House has called for the proper reconstitution of the board of the SON in line with Section 3(2) of the SON Act and in strict compliance with Section 2 of the Act.