The President of BCPG, Kunle Awobodu has said there was a need for everybody to be involved in eliminating the practice of faking cement through the practice known locally as rebagging.
Awobodu said, “Based on the investigation of Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), competition and greed within the circles of some cement distributors and retailers are the major factors that initiate this deleterious approach. “The intention to attract customers by deliberately lowering the price, usually between N50 and N100, against the general market price is identified as the major cause of rebagged cement syndrome.”
He said, “The essence of packaging cement at 50kg quantity per bag is to ensure consistency in mix ratio on site. However, when such quantity is deliberately reduced by some dubious cement distributors and retailers actuated by profiteering, structural defects in building become imminent.
He said, “The sharp practice of cement quantity depletion is prevalent in the building material markets in Nigeria, especially in Abuja and Port Harcourt. It is unfortunate that this illegal practice has been in existence for long without serious efforts to checkmate it. And it remains a big headache for construction practitioners.”
According to him, “Headpans are the common gauge for batching aggregates and cement on sites. A headpan is designed to contain, conveniently, 25kg of cement. For ease of transportation and lifting, a bag of cement is limited in weight to 50kg, that is, two headpans by volume. This gauge therefore becomes the basis for determining the quantity of the aggregates in a specific mix. “For instance, a mix ratio of 1:2:4 which is traditionally expected to attain a strength of 20N/mm2 at 28 days, the translation into practice is one headpan of cement (i.e. half a bag of cement) will be added to two headpans of fine aggregate such as sharp sand and four headpans of coarse aggregate that could be clean gravel or granite. Then water of appropriate proportion is used to mix the cement and the aggregates together in a workability and compaction that will eventuate in the required strength at 28 days.”
However, a reduction in the quantity of cement contained in a standard bag, which might not be easily noticeable constitutes a serious danger to the overall strength of a concrete, he said, adding “The same is applicable to cement-sand ratio in screeding, rendering and block ‘moulding’.”
Awobodu, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) said, “It takes an eagle eyed construction professional to identify a slightly depleted bag of cement. It is only an experienced ganger or labourer that could sense a weight difference in a full cement bag and the rebagged one that has been carefully opened, depleted and resewn. The most effective way of checking the weight of cement supplied to site in order to separate the chaff from the grain is to place each bag on weighing machine. This is cumbersome and impracticable. Hence, it is more realistic to control the illegal practice from the source.”
BCPG, he said “Hereby recommends to Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria to unite cement manufacturers against a common enemy, the illegal rebagging of cement. A regular forum for cement distributors and retailers should be established. At such fora, implications of rebagged cement practice should be discussed to create a basis for the conscionable dictate that would discourage the sharp practice. We hope this issue will be given an urgent attention.”