Tanzania’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has blamed the recent high cement prices on non-production by four main cement manufacturers in the country that had gone into maintenance.
A 50kg bag of cement retails for Tsh15,000 ($6), but according to the National Bureau of Statistics data for October, the price had risen by 30 percent to Tsh22,000 ($9) in parts of the country.
Permanent Secretary Dr Riziki Shemdoe told The EastAfrican that “some cement manufacturing industries had stopped production for a short term programme, which then paved the way for thorough maintenance of machines, and this lead to stopping production for a while.”
This affected supply, which dropped to 150,000 tonnes for October, compared with 450,000 tonnes supplied to the market in the past two previous months.
The four main cement manufacturers are Twiga Cement based in Dar es Salaam, Tanga Cement in Tanga, Mbeya Cement in Mbeya and Dangote Cement located in Mtwara in Southern region.
Twiga, the leading cement manufacturer with a capacity of 700,000 tonnes annually, is sagging under the demand, and this week its depot at Wazo Hill on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam was swamped by importers from neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi, which largely depend on Tanzanian cement.
A meeting between government officials and the manufacturers recently discovered that demand for industrial cement was unusually high as government implements mega construction projects across the country.
It was agreed that manufacturers increase production to check the price increases by unscrupulous traders.
The Dangote plant stopped production early October for maintenance. Company lawyer Clara Koshuma, tweeted that production will resume mid-November.
Benny Lema, director of Tanga Cement, said inefficient supply of electricity had contributed to low production. He, however, said it was normal for the plant to go into maintenance every September. Their wholesale price of 50kg bag is Tsh11,500 ($5).
In a bid to put a stop hoarding and overcharging by traders, Tanga Regional Commissioner Martin Shigela has launched a crackdown on agents’ depots and retailers.