6 August 2018

Liberia: Cemenco Reduces Commodity Price

Sets up points of sale in leeward counties

The management of the Liberia Cement Corporation (CEMENCO) on Friday, August 3, announced the reduction in the price of a bag of cement for end users in various parts of the country.

CEMENCO General Manager William P. Gaignard told a news conference at the company's plant on Bushrod Island that the new price varies per location in the country, but it is expected to make a major impact on the construction sector. The new price for a bag of cement for end users in Monrovia and its environs will now be US$6.85, down from the current price which is more than US$8.50 based on the location of the sale.

In Ganta City, Nimba County, end users will purchase a bag for US$7.10; US$6.95 in Buchanan and in Lofa County a bag will be sold for not more than US$8.00, according to Mr. Gaignard. He said the company seeks to make cement available, affordable and accessible for the end users. Gaignard said despite earlier reduction of the price of a bag of cement at the plant, end users were still challenged with the high retail price of the commodity.

"We have observed that the final price was still being high for the end users at the various points of sale in the city," said Gaignard. He added, "as such, we have decided to open CEMENCO outlets in order to distribute our product directly and indirectly, which will enable us to control prices." According to Gaignard, the company remains committed to the Liberian people by producing quality cement per customers' demand.

"Due to the high demand for cement, management is committed to serving customers in a fair and transparent way by responding to the demand of the market in the 15 counties by making the commodity available and accessible. The firm is opening six outlets in Monrovia and also will move to Nimba, particularly in the commercial hub of Ganta at Vivian Business Center, Buchanan, Grand Bassa County at MB Construction, and Lofa County where outlets will also be set up," Gaignard said.

CEMENCO Strategic and Project Manager, Madam Christine Nimely, said the price cut and establishment of new outlets will enable ordinary Liberians to build more concrete homes instead of mud houses as part of support to the government's Pro-poor agenda. Mr. Robert O. Marshall, Logistic and Shipping Manager, however, said that the company is facing logistical constraints in transporting the commodity to the Southeast of the country, "but we're working to transport cement there by sea to ensure that the product reaches customers."

Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh described the new price cut as a "fundamental step the company has taken." Tarpeh then stressed that CEMENCO has transcended from being Liberia's "stakeholder to shareholder." According to him, before the company arrived at the decision to reduce price of the commodity, government through the Commerce Ministry took four months to negotiate with the firm, considering that cement is a vital part of the construction sector.

"And in accordance with the government's Pro-poor agenda, we intend to empower our people to build concrete structures across the country. So it became necessary for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to engage CEMENCO - the major producer of this important commodity, to see how the price could be reduced. We expect that the commodity will be available and affordable," he said.

Minister Tarpeh also praised the company for being "very forthcoming" during the process of the negotiation. He has meanwhile called on customers to ensure that the new prices are not manipulated by the retailers. The minister said "the public has been extremely helpful" to the ministry to enforce some of the commerce regulations. He also announced that the ministry will publicize the cement price, set up a complainant hotline and ensure inspectors monitor the market.

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