Cement crisis almost over, Bahrain

Cement crisis almost over, Bahrain
Published: 10 April 2007

A 20 per cent shortfall last month has already been reduced to 10pc, said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry contractors committee chairman Samir Nass.

"We have taken steps to ensure that this is being reduced on a daily basis and we are sure that it will be completely eliminated by the beginning of May," he told a Press conference at the BCCI headquarters in Manama. Last month, Bahrain needed 150,000 tonnes of cement but received only 120,000 tonnes, said Mr Nass.

"The shortage was the result of a breakdown in supplies from Saudi Arabia after one of the plants there, which has a dedicated production line for Bahrain, suffered a major fault," he said.

"Bahrain’s main importer, the United Cement Company, which supplies 60pc of the market requirement, was severely hit and supplies fell by 50pc.

"This led to the problem in Bahrain and even had some of the major cement-intensive construction sites lagging behind in their schedules.

Mr Nass said some ready-mix companies, which normally work round the clock, had to resort to working reduced hours because their supplies ran out.

"The situation is now being corrected and we should have normal supplies soon," he said.

Mr Nass said alternative arrangements had been made though other channels.

"Sources in the UAE and other countries have been tapped and soon the production in Saudi Arabia will also be normal," he said.

The market demand for cement in Bahrain was 1.3 million tonnes last year and this is expected to increase to 1.6m tonnes this year and 1.8m tonnes next year.

Mr Nass said there was a severe shortfall in all the countries in the region, due to the tremendous volumes of construction. He said most of the region’s cement producers were also in the process of expanding their capacity. The current boom in construction sector will also not go on forever at the same rapid pace, said Mr Nass.

The GDN reported last month that a shortage of cement in the Gulf had forced work to stop at many of Bahrain’s major construction projects. BCCI contractor’s committee vice-chairman Nedham Kameshki said then that the country would slip into crisis unless the situation was resolved.

The project manager of one company in Bahrain, which has six projects around the country worth more than BD18m, said it was a very serious problem because their work was suffering. He said that unless the situation improved quickly, the finishing times of some projects could be delayed.