The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry officials have travelled to Zimbabwe to make arrangement for Zambia to import 55,000t of cement to meet the shortfall in the market.
Commerce, Trade and Industry, Minister Felix Mutati said in an interview that following his meeting with his counterpart from Zimbabwe, it was agreed that Zambia imports cement from Zimbabwe to mitigate the shortage on the market.
Mr Mutati said once arrangements for the importation of cement are complete, Government would work out modalities of importing the commodity through the private sector.
He further pointed out that the two Governments would sign a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the importation of cement.
Mr Mutati said supply of cement on the market was becoming a challenge for Government.
He said Lafarge Zambia Plc was working hard to complete the construction of a new plant and had assured Government its operations would start around July this year.
Mr Mutati said it was unfortunate that Zambezi Portland Cement Limited which should have started production next month was lagging behind by a month.
“With the coming of the Lafarge Zambia Plc’s new cement plant and Zambezi Portland in Ndola on the market, we hope to deal with the supply of cement,” he said.
Mr Mutati said although Zambia imported cement from Tanzania, the country was only getting about a thousand tonnes which was consumed in northern Zambia.
“The volume of cement coming from Tanzania is not sufficient, which is why we have engaged our colleges from Zimbabwe to see whether we can bring in more cement to address the demand side,” he said.
Mr Mutati said importation of cement from neighbouring countries was a short-term measure to address the shortage before the new plants begin production.
Meanwhile Mr Mutati says Government’s role is to attract investment from anywhere and to make the investment climate in Zambia conducive.
He was commenting on concerns from the public on the poor conditions of service offered to workers by Chinese investors.
Mr Mutati, however, said the Ministry of Labour had passed a Statutory Instrument that dealt with minimum wages.
He said the Ministry of Labour would this year come up with reforms to deal with issues of the labour market.