Cement price hike pushing us out of labour market, artisans, unskilled labourers lament

Dangote Cement

Artisans and unskilled labourers in Ibadan have cried out over the implications of the skyrocketing prices of cement on their livelihood.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hike in prices of cement has affected several sectors of the economy, including construction, sending most people out of business.

Some of the artisans and unskilled labourers, who spoke with NAN in Ibadan on Sunday, lamented that the high cost of cement was denying them of earning their daily bread, as they were now practically out of jobs.

A bricklayer, Mr Sunday Odeh, said he had been at home since the sudden increase in the price of cement to N12,000 per bag from its initial N5,500.

“The engineer I work with shortly before the sudden increase bought 50 bags of cement at N5,500.

“After exhausting the cement at the site, he discovered that the price had jumped to N10,000; since then, things have changed.

“The engineer has been lamenting the sudden increase, saying he could not add extra money to get new supply of the commodity without the consent of the property owner.

“He came back to inform us that the property owner had refused to add more money for the job, thereby, putting a temporary stop to the project and he has asked the workers to stay at home until the price is reduced.

“But, in order to provide for my family and make ends meet, I have decided to use my motorcycle for commercial purpose,” Odeh said.

Mrs Ayoka Alani, a mother of four, who usually assembled join other labourers at Mobil bus stop, Ring Road, Ibadan, for daily job at building sites, decried the sudden hike in cement price, saying that this had literally put a stop to their daily bread.

Alani said that most site engineers could not afford to buy cement again, among other products need to work at sites.

“Times are so hard now. This is the second week that I have been coming here to look for bricklayers that will need us for labour, but no one seems to be coming for our services.

“I’m not alone here; we are many waiting for bricklayers to call us for work.

“Before now, the bricklayers might request for two, four or six labourers but now, they will just pick one or two of us and worst still, at ridiculous amount.

“The rest will just sit down here, and when they wait till around 12 noon and no one comes for them, they will go back home, to converge the following day,” she said.

Alani decried the hike in cement prices and other building materials, saying that it was having a telling effect on their job as site workers, adding: “our survival seems to have been put on hold, for now.”

Mr Andrew Ayodele, a block moulder, said that his business had also been seriously affected by high cost of cement.

To Ayodele, work is not going on well due to cement price increase which has resulted in the prices of blocks and its attendant low patronage from customers.
“The owner of the block industry I worked with recently laid off its workers due to low patronage, saying that he might call us back if sales improved.

“Since the cement price increase, prices of blocks have also increased. A nine-inch block is now N700, while a culvert now sells for N17,000,” he said.

A tipper driver, Mr Bamidele Aina, said that the development had also affected his business, as most construction sites now experienced low patronage since cement price had increased.
“There is low demand for sand and gravel now, unlike before.

“Our major marketers are block-making industry and big companies, but since the sudden rise in prices of cement, among other construction materials, every other sector has been equally affected. (NAN)