According to local press reports, Lafarge Cement Malawi, has said there is need to equip artisans, builders and masons with vocational skills in order to improve the quality of structures that are constructed in the country.
Lafarge Managing Director Sjoerd Grueter said in the capital, Lilongwe at the launch of the Umisili Partnership programme which seeks to equip builders that have little technical training with skills of how they can effectively use the company’s Kumanga cement.
Some consumers have been complaining that Kumanga cement is substandard.
However, Lafarge boss said their survey had shown that little vocational training had been the major cause of customer worry when using the product.
He said many builders have never gone for any technical training and they did not understand how to effectively use cement.
"We came with the programme because we found that many people use our product and we felt that we should train them on proper use of the product after we discovered that builders do not use the products the way we designed them," Grueter said.
Technical Education Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) Executive Director John Chafa commended Lafarge for coming up with the initiative expressing hope that it would benefit many builders that never went for proper training.
The Umisili Partnership programme was first conducted in commercial capital, Blantyre where 200 people graduated and the Lilongwe training is expected to benefit over 300 people.
According to Lafarge marketing Manager Timothy Kumbukeni Sukali, the programme will cost the company over K7 million.
Last year, Malawi government removed restrictions on the importation of cement, which it put in place in 2000, after Lafarge Portland and Shayona Cement complained about “unfair” competition posed by cheap imports from Zimbabwe.
Malawi’s Trade and Industry Minister, Ken Lipenga, disclose that government has removed the restrictions owing to the current shortage of the commodity.
“The shortage of cement in the country has come at a time when there is a lot of construction work. We have, therefore, resolved to open the gates for anyone who wants to import cement into the country. This implies that importers will no longer have to seek licenses to import cement.”
Lipenga highlighted that the measure is “temporary” subject for review.