Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza on Monday said cement import permits will continue to be issued until local production returns to normal. She said:
Lafarge still has production challenges and we will continue issuing import permits until the situation improves.
Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe, one of the country’s largest cement producers, experienced a plant breakdown resulting in a shortage of cement in the country.
Lafarge and PPC control more than 70 per cent of the domestic market.
In October this year, a roof collapsed at one of Lafarge’ cement mills.
The incident, which happened on 11 October, however, recorded no fatalities or injuries but disrupted production.
The shortage of cement has led to price increases, with some traders and dealers selling a 50 kg bag for US$13.
By contrast, in Zambia, on average, the 50 kg bag of cement costs around US$4.50.
A Harare-based retailer told The Herald that a shortage of locally-produced cement forces them to import the product resulting in steep prices. Said the retailer:
It’s very difficult to get cement from big suppliers and we end up getting the supplies from private importers, but at a very huge cost that will pass on to consumers. That is why the prices are so high.