Not less than 920 people working in the Dangote Cement Plcâ€™s factory located in Gboko, Benue State, are currently out of jobs following the recent shutdown of the plant.
Our correspondent gathered that 890 of the workers are Nigerians while the remaining 30 are expatriates.
The Head, Human Assets Management and Administration, Dangote Cement Plc, Gboko Plant, Mr. Jeremiah Marcus, confirmed the number but said over 1,500 others were also indirectly affected.
These people, according to him, include contractors, artisans, and bankers offering services to workers in the community where the cement factory is located.
â€œ890 Nigerians and 30 expatriates were affected by the temporary shutdown at the Dangote Cement factory in Gboko. These are people that are directly affected but in total, about 2500 Nigerians have been affected as over 1,500 other Nigerians are indirectly affected,â€ he said.
Marcus, however, explained that the cement factory workers would only be out of jobs temporarily, as the company planned to recall them as soon the markets bounced back.
He also said that the affected workers were paid a monthâ€™s salary as well as end-of-the-year bonus before being sent home.
â€œWe expect to recall them as soon as things get better and the Federal Government does something to improve the current situation,â€ he said.
The cement industry had been grappling with what stakeholders described as product glut amid skyrocketing cost of production and increased importation. This had culminated in plant shutdowns by Dangote Cement and Lafarge WAPCO Cement Company Plc.
The Chairman, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and an adviser to the Chairman, Dangote Group, Mr. Joseph Makoju, had earlier said that continuous importation of cement and low demand as against surplus local production were responsible for the glut in the countryâ€™s cement industry.
He said these were responsible for the shutdown of the Gboko plant, denying insinuations that the plant was shut down for Turn Around Maintenance.
Makoju, who explained that Dangote had incurred a lot of debt by keeping the plant running for long under the circumstance, said, â€œCement making is a high fixed cost market; while we are producing, we are spending money on gas, LPFO, salaries and others. As such, many of cement makers are shutting down production facilities to conserve funds while we wait for the market to pick up.â€
He lamented that cement manufacturers in the country were building up surplus because there â€˜isnâ€™t enough market for our productâ€™. He added that Dangote alone had an inventory of 950,000 tons unsold cement and clinkers.
He said, â€œSince we have been confronted with this problem, the manufacturers have been making presentations to the Federal Government. Investors have become very nervous about their investments and they want some forms of protection especially against importation.
We are not asking for the ban of importation but we are asking government to put maximum duties on importation.â€