Tanzania: Dealers React On Cement Crisis

AS Regional Commissioners are expected to submit to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reports on investigation on the alleged shortage of cement today (November 20, 2020), several distributors say high demand for the building material led to the crisis.

They told this paper that supply could not meet huge demand for cement for major infrastructure projects and individual use for construction of residential and commercial high-rise buildings.

Executive Director of Moshi-based Five Star Hardware Limited, Frank Alfred said cement supply was not sufficient to meet the rising demand from new construction activities by the government and the people as the holiday season approaches.

He said there was a significant demand growth of cement from government supported infrastructure projects and booming construction activities in urban and semi-urban areas to meet rising housing needs due to rapid urbanization.

He said they use to send ten trucks to a cement plant and they will all be loaded with cement immediately but of recent, it was taking nearly ten days to load one truck.

Cement manufacturers were taking longer than usual to meet their supply orders, he said noting that there are problems in supply.

"We often remain with depleted stock and at the same time, our trucks spend much more days before we get new supplies, which increase operational costs."

"You're in trouble if you took a bank loan. They don't care if you're doing business or not. What they care about is their loan repayment," Mr Alfred claimed.

He said cement like other businesses have seasons of high and low demand and it happened its supply did not match rising demand.

"Cement has peak seasons as well. From August to December is a peak season because many people are interested in building or renovating their houses," he said.

"This is the time when farmers have harvested crops and want to build or renovate their houses as you know the festival season is coming," he said.

He said since cement has become scarce as a distributor, they have to look for cement from different manufacturers even if they were previously based on one manufacturer. Executive Director of Mnazi Trading Company, another cement distributor in Moshi, Frank Ngowi, was also of the view that the price hike was a result of increasing demand against declining supply.

He said there was a shortage of cement caused by high demand and low supply of the item, which leads to price increase and even smuggling.

Traders may easily be attracted to take advantage of the shortage of the cement and high demand to make more money by rising price, he said.

He said since October last year, cement supply has not been normal. "The factories can produce in one week and the following week it suspends

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