A severe shortage of cement is paralysing some construction work in Maputo city and province, and in the neighbouring province of Gaza, reports Wednesday’s issue of the independent daily "O Pais"’.
This shortage is being blamed on the increased demand, particularly for major undertakings, such as the construction of the new national stadium and the modernization of Maputo International Airport.
In all of southern Mozambique, there is just one cement factory, in the city of Matola, owned by "Cimentos de Mocambique" (CM), which is in turn owned by the Portuguese cement giant Cimpor. Currently this factory is producing 1,800 tonnes of cement a day - which is not enough to meet current demand.
Faced with the shortage, the government eliminated the surtax on imported cement, but this has not prevented a sharp rise in the price of cement, as retailers grasp the chance to speculate.
A 50kg of cement should cost 260 or 270 meticais (slightly less than US$10). But retailers are now selling a sack for 300 meticais and upwards. In Xai-Xai, the Gaza provincial capital, prices have reached between 355 and 380 meticais.
Contractors are also jumping on this bandwagon, arguing that the cement shortage and price hike mean they have to review their pieces upwards - even for building work where the contract has already been signed. They claim that budgets for work already contracted need to be increased by around 20 per cent.