CEMENCO, the largest producer of cement in Liberia, feels obliged not only to import the cement materials to produce here but to make an impact on the surrounding communities within which it operates. By this, it has begun a professional block making training for the four communities surrounding its premises. Communities from where 12 young men and women are selected for each session of the training include Sawmill, Billimah, Bassa Town and Jamaica Road.
According to Safety and Environmental Manager Nathaniel Pritchard, the Block Maker Academy was launched in 2018 with the thought of training participants to mold concrete blocks in a guaranteed and professional way so that they will be used for any building purpose in line with a conventionally acceptable standard.
CEMENCO Managing Director, William Ph. Gaignard, in a brief remark at the opening of the training said he was happy that Liberians will be recruited from the surroundings of the facility to learn how to make concrete blocks, and he anticipates a distinct output from them to set their product different from any other block maker.
As an environmental expert, Mr. Pritchard told the trainees that everything done at CEMENCO considers safety highly, and that safety is all that they follow in doing whatever is required in the production of the commodity.
Victor Saah, Quality Supervisor at CEMENCO, said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer that his company being a producer of the “Best” cement in Liberia and in the African region uses 65-89% Clinker, 5% Gypsum, and 21% Limestone and Granite dust in the production. He said CEMENCO has not produced cement with limestone and granite dust at 35% as being reported by some media outlets.
Dispelling media report about poor quality product, Mr. Saah said those engaged in such a reporting are doing it with a sinister motive especially when they find themselves in cohort with another group that wants to compete in the same business.
According to Saah, after completion the block makers will be empowered with block molding materials such as wheelbarrows, shovels, mold and other things to necessitate their work while in their communities. This means that the block makers will either form groups or work individually in their respective communities using the techniques they learn in making solid blocks that builders will trust.
Block makers are everywhere in Liberia making blocks for sale at various points while others are contracted to mold blocks for people who are desirous of building shelters.
However, mixing mortar and measuring the quantity of cement with sand to produce block remain a doubt for house owners but known perhaps to molders. This creates the dilemma whereby block makers measure by their discretion perhaps in the way that more blocks will be produce using less quantity of cement.
Explaining about quality blocks, Mr. Saah said every two wheelbarrow loads of sand constitute a bag of cement going further. It also means that four loads will require four bags and six will take three bags.
The trainees, therefore, are closely supervised how to mix the cement and the sand, and the quantity of water to use. Unlike building mortar that may be loosed and a bit watery, block-making mortar is a bit thick with less water to allow it come smoothly out of the mold and to dry quickly.
It is now know when each session of the training will end, but after completion, the trainees will have molded some thousands of blocks that CEMENCO will give out to government ministries and agencies to construct infrastructural projects they might have.