21 December 2012

Zambia: 'Pricey' Cement Traders to Be Blacklisted

CEMENT-making firms have attributed the high prices of cement in the country to retailers who are overpricing the product.

They say some retail outlets are making unjustified upward price adjustments and creating artificial shortages on the market.

Zambezi Portland Cement has warned retailers who are overpricing the commodity that they will be blacklisted if they continue exploiting the consumers.

Both Lafarge Cement and Zambezi Portland Cement said in separate interviews that they had no intention of increasing prices but they had instead optimised both production and the sale of cement through the countrywide distribution network.

They accused retailers of taking advantage of the market dynamics which lead to demand for cement to go up during this period when people want to finish their construction projects before the onset of the rainy season.

The prices of cement have increased from the recommended retail price of between K56,000 and K58,000 to as high as K78,000 on the black market.

Lafarge Ndola plant marketing manager Wisely Kaluba said cement manufacturing firms do not dictate to the retailers the price of cement.

He said Lafarge had not in any way increased the prices of cement and that the current shortage was not a true reflection of the trend as far as trade in the commodity was concerned.

Mr Kaluba said those profiteering from the increase in demand risked being prosecuted for engaging in unfair business practices.

Zambezi Portland Cement operations manager Kayula Mwamba said the company sells a 50 kilogramme bag of cement to retailers at K52,000 and allows them to resell at suitable prices after including fixed flight costs depending on the areas of their operations.

Mr Mwamba said cement manufucaturing firms deliberately price their commodity at an affordable price based on the cost of production to enable the retailers to pass the benefits to the consumers who were the end users.

He said the company would not hesitate to blacklist any cement distributer or retailers trading in its product at black market prices.

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