Technical fault behind cement shortage’
A TECHNICAL fault at the country’s largest cement makers PPC Zimbabwe and Larfarge is said to be behind the recent shortage of the commodity on the market, which has seen retailers pushing the price up by more than 15 percent.
Panic had gripped the domestic market in the last two weeks, resulting in a sharp increase in cement prices as dealers capitalised on speculation.
MrSifelaniJabangwe, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), an umbrella body for the manufacturing sector in the country, acknowledged the problem in an interview yesterday.
“The shortage of cement could be due to the fact that coincidentally there has been a technical fault at both PPC Ltd and Lafarge,” he told media.
Gweru-based Sino-Zimbabwe Cement said their operations were normal and ruled out any fundamental changes in the macro-economic climate. Its sales and marketing manager, MrIbiamSengwe, said they were producing at 100 percent capacity, which translates to 1 000 tonnes per day.
“We are doing exceptionally well. We are offering unhindered service to our customers. Every type of our cement is available on the market and our production is good,” he said.
The temporary shortage of cement has greatly upset the construction sector and shocked the market at large. The few outlets that have the product are reportedly selling it at double the original price. Most hardware stores that normally sell cement have run out of stock, while prices had increased to between $15 and $20 a bag compared to the recommended retail prices averaging $11.50 for PC and $10 for masonry.
The country has a demand of about 1,3 million tonnes of cement annually and local producers have a combined capacity of producing around 1,6 million tonnes per year. MrObert Sibanda from Zimbabwe Building Contractors’ Association said the shortage of cement could dent the economy.