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COVID-19: WHO, OGSG hailed every step we have taken so far— Lafarge CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa in Nigeria, Mr Khaled El Dokani, has disclosed that both Ogun State and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have appreciated the entire corporate responses since the detection of coronavirus into Nigeria from an Italian working for one of the company’s vendors.

Speaking in an interview on a national TV monitored in Lagos on Thursday, he however demonstrated corporate remorse and apologised to Nigerians over how the first local case came from an Italian working for a vendor firm.

Business Hilights gathered that Lafarge Africa Cement conglomerate had invited the Italian consultant into the country in late February for business purposes, but was unfortunately diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus, Covid-19, which finally became first case in sub-Saharan Africa within the period.

El Dokani responses during the TV interview are as follows: “Frankly speaking the company is not going through any low periods. We are doing great. The intention is to bring it one step forward. So we are looking at our teams and strengthening our strategy with the support of our board members and teams.

Lafarge MD
Khaled El-Dokani, Managing Director/CEO, Lafarge Africa Plc

“To be honest, one of the things that have proven the resilience of Lafarge Africa Plc is the level of awareness and anticipation of our people that have been training for months and months since the coronavirus came out. And this is one of the things that show the resilience of the company. We are very well equipped to meet such surprises. The reaction of our team on the ground and the way they reacted, the way they coordinated with our states, especially in Ogun and Lagos, was extremely prompt; it was very well appreciated.

“And I would take this opportunity to thank the Governors of Ogun and Lagos for their participation, their fast reaction and the very, very great achievement they have made to contain the situation and take the necessary precautions.

“We are a big company, a big organisation, we have a lot of resources. However, the health and safety of our employees come as a top priority. And if it is needed to sacrifice some of our results to make sure that our people are safe and healthy, this is what we are going to do. However, the current situation – and I have contact with each and every person who has been quarantined in one-and-one phone calls, they are all in very good health, the morale is high, they’ve got their phones with them, they are running the business from where they are. I look forward to overcome this issue, which is unfortunate for all of us, and we apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused to anybody.

“The plant is up and running. It has not been closed. We have our trucks shipping our cement, so this is part of the social media rumours or news which did not take place. We had visitors from the honourable Commissioner of Health, the World Health Organisation, they visited the plant and they commended each and every step we have taken so far,” El Dokani averred.

Recall that El Dokani resumed duties as the CEO of the cement giant only this month, following the switch of the former chief executive, Mr. Micheal Puchercos from Lafarge to Dangote Cement earlier this month as pioneer boss of Dangote Cement, Engr Joe Makoju retires.