By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
The country has been hit by a shortage of cement, leaving the construction industry stranded, while in some instances resorting to the black market.
A snap survey showed that PPC and Lafarge were out of stock in most retail outlets and building material warehouses in most towns and cities.
The two companies control more than 70 percent of the country’s cement market.
While Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Company, which has about 25 percent market share, insists that its products are on the market and readily available, retailers say they do not have them in stock.
Sino-Zimbabwe Cement sales and marketing manager Mr Ibiam Sengwe said their products were on the market and there were no concerns from their distributors of any shortage of cement.
“I am not aware that there is shortage of cement in the country,” he said. “As a company, our distributors are well stocked. If there is a shortage maybe they are referring to other brands. As far as we are concerned, we are moving the product to the market and there is no shortage.”
Concrete and Cement Institute of Zimbabwe member, Mr Monday Moyo, said cement was usually in high demand in summer.
He said the institute was not allowed to comment on issues to do with the market.
“I have received calls from people enquiring on that (shortage),” he said. “Maybe it is because in summer there is high uptake of cement.
“However, Concrete and Cement Institute of Zimbabwe is not allowed to comment on market issues by the Competition and Tariff Commission so as to ensure fairness.”
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.
Efforts to get comments from PPC and Lafarge were futile as their corporate communications departments were not available.
The shortage of cement could have far-reaching implications on the construction industry.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development recently embarked on a roads rehabilitation programme after allocating money to all provinces to resurface and reconstruct roads, while in some cases putting tarmac.
The works could be affected if the shortage of cement continues.
Government recently availed $19 million for the construction of a road which links Mberengwa and West Nicholson and another linking Mberengwa and Mataga in Midlands.
National Railways of Zimbabwe recently placed an order for more than 10 000 concrete rail sleepers for its track rehabilitation exercise.
The sleepers are manufactured at Fort Concrete in Gweru. The Herald