Stories from Suleiman Idris, Lagos
In line with its commitment to continually enlighten and sensitise block makers, bricklayers and end-users of its range of products, Lafarge WAPCO, the second largest cement manufacturer in Nigeria, last week in Lagos organised a one-day enlightenment and sensitisation forum for stakeholders in Ibeju-Lekki and Epe areas in Lagos state.
The forum, which had ‘Requirements of Quality Blocks in Building Construction’ as its theme, dwelt on how to ensure proper materials mix, description for block making, recommended production process and technique as well as competence of artisans.
Justifying the sensitisation programme which is ongoing across the country, Lafarge’s General Manager, Sales and Customers’ Services, Mr. Sam Ndionyema said it is primarily to stem the incidents of collapsed buildings in the country. He pointed out that his company feels uncomfortable whenever there are reports of building collapse in Nigeria.
Ndionyema, who noted that incidents of building collapse have become a national embarrassment to stakeholders in the building industry, added that majority of the cases are traced to the use of sub-standard materials and unqualified artisans and quacks.
Educating the participants on quality block production process, Mr. Soji Okesina, who oversees the block making and precast segment of the company’s operations, said materials for making concrete blocks consist of sand, cement and water, adding that to produce high quality blocks, the sand should be free from impurities such as clay, silt, humus soil, organic materials and others.
Okesina pointed out that the cement should be in a sealed bag and not caked, stressing that regulating bodies should specify the use of regular cement. He said water used for block-making should be free from smell, colour and impurities. He stated that shed should be provided to store freshly-moulded blocks to protect them from rainfall or bad weather, while thick polyethylene sheets can be used to cover freshly moulded blocks, to protect them from rainfall. He said fresh mix for blocks should be prepared on a flat and covered surface or concrete floor to prevent contamination of the mix.
Okesina gave reasons for poor production quality of products by block makers as quest for excessive profits, inadequate understanding of product mix, poor supervision and regulation. Others are wrong selection of materials, poor workmanship and use of non-professionals.
Responding on behalf of Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria, the National President of the body, Mr. Rasheed Adebowale commended Lafarge for the forum.