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Cement Crisis Deepens

Cement Crisis Deepens
A long line of trucks parked outside Tengy Cement Factory in Lami on June 15,2017. Photo: Monica Aguilar.
June 16
11:52 2017

the shortage of cement around the country deepened yesterday.

This was after Tengy Cement Limited succumbed to an electrical glitch on Wednesday night.

Tengy Cement Limited is currently the only supplier of cement in the country ever since Pacific Cement Limited had stopped its production of cement last week due to mechanical problems.

Pacific Cement Limited had agreed to sell its clinker to Tengy Cement Limited last Thursday to enable it to increase production.

This followed the decision made by Attorney-General, Minister for Economy and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to resolve the shortage of cement in the busy local construction market.

Tengy Cement Limited general manager Hongyang Li said engineers were at the site and had been working around the clock to fix the problem.

About 20 trucks lined up at the access road leading up to the cement factory near Wailekutu in Lami yesterday morning waiting to load their supply.

The same was observed earlier in the week.

Krishnil Singh, a truck driver for A1 Transport Company, said he had been waiting at the Tengy factory site since Monday.

He would normally turn up at 4am as orders are to be placed before 8am.

At 4pm yesterday afternoon, Mr Singh was still at the site.

He and three other drivers from the same company were contracted to deliver cement to their customers in Levuka.

Around the country, hardware outlets are starting to feel the brunt of the cement shortage.

Hardware shops in the greater Suva area confirmed they were only receiving a limited number of bags every day.

Far less than what they had ordered for.

A hardware store in Nakasi was selling only four bags of cement per customer.

In Levuka, customers were informed to return tomorrow. Cement bags which landed on the island on Wednesday morning was sold out by midday.

In Savusavu and Labasa, customers were told that the supply is likely to be back to normal in a month’s time.

Tengy Cement Limited however remained optimistic that the company will be able to produce enough cement to meet the country’s demands after it obtained extra clinker from Pacific Cement Limited.

They have also ordered for more supply from overseas.

Clinker is the raw ingredient that is central to cement production.

Construction company, Kinton International general manager William Ngan said their company was not as badly affected compared to others.

He said they recently contacted a cement supplier in China but were mindful of the time frame set by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.

FRCA had stated that in order to qualify for concession, orders must be placed and consignments must leave the country of origin before the expiry of the three months, that is 9 September 2017.

Mr Ngan said this was too risky.

“The Government only gave a few months, so by the time I place the order overseas and have it ready then shipped, it will be close to the 90 day mark. There is so much risk although the price is alright.”

Since the announcement of the shortage of cement late last week, the import of cement is now zero-rated, but a nine per cent VAT is still be applicable.


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