For the past month, there has been rumbling in the construction industry as to whether there is shortage of building cement or not. One company owner in Gaborone told Gazette Business that he has had difficulty in try to procure cement to develop a few plots he owns.
“There is no cement and if you find any it is of poor quality,” said the developer who preferred to remain anonymous.
Another complaint came from a local building material hardware owner, noting that the problem was with the suppliers. “They have not been bringing in enough to satisfy demand so we sometimes have to priorities clients.”
Asked if this had in anyway affected the prices of the building material, our source stated that in the outer regions that might be the case as some of the stores take advantage and hike prices to benefit from the shortfall.
In response to a questionnaire from Gazette Business, the country largest suppliers of cement in Botswana, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC), stated that though there was a problem, but there was a resolution at hand.
“The supply of PPC cement is currently returning to normal after some constraints on delivery,” was the response from the company’s Public Relations Office.
PPC went on to explain the course of the shortage. “There was a shortage of fly ash to use for blending and this is required for the Botcem product produced in Gaborone. The shortage of fly ash was caused by the fact that PPC receives very little fly ash now from Morupule Power Station and has to source fly ash from Witbank in South Africa. This is a distance of approximately 500km one way.” PPC also put blame on the ongoing fuel workers strike going on in South Africa.
“These long hauls were disrupted for a few weeks with the strike that affected the availability of diesel.”
The cement company also assured their clients of stability in supply as they work through the problem. “Supply is returning to normal as we are supplementing from other PPC factories in South Africa and Zimbabwe. PPC regrets that a few customers experienced some delivery problems and in some cases had to take a different product than requested.
PPC reacted quickly to the challenges and by making use of its good network of factories has resumed supply. We are in discussions with Morupule Power Station in an effort to rectify the ongoing ash supply problems.”