The resumption of nationwide construction activities after the winter spell has skyrocketed the local consumption of cement to 63 per cent higher than last January.
The construction activity has shot up both in public and private sectors besides the Northern Areas, and the cement demand has received a sudden jump.
The industry sources are expecting further rise in consumption in the days to come while disagreeing with the impression that the cement prices would touch again the highest-ever figure of Rs400 per 50 kg bag.
However, some circles are also carrying an impression that the cement manufacturers and the cement dealers have formed a cartel to create an artificial shortage of cement in the market with the rise in demand.
But according to the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), local dispatches during January 2007 rose to 1,853,487t against 1,141,443t of January 06, registering a phenomenal growth of 63 per cent.
Similarly, the cement exports during January 07 have risen to 244,886t against 47,282t during January 06. Resultantly, the total dispatches have reached to 2,098,373t in January 07 against 1,188,725t in January 06, registering a growth of 76.52 per cent.
As far as July 06-Jan 07 figures are concerned, the local dispatches are recorded at 11,829,260t against 9,122,447t in the corresponding period, showing an increase of 30 per cent. On the exports front, the total dispatches during July 06-Jan 07 have reached to 1,447,580t against 822,730t in the corresponding period. The total dispatches during July 06-Jan 07 have recorded a phenomenal growth of 33.50 per cent, as it remained 13,276,840t in July 06-Jan 07 against 9,945,177t in July 05-Jan 06.
The industry sources believe that the opening up of roads to the Northern Areas has given a boost to the construction activities there. Similarly, they added, the public sector construction work has also registered a phenomenal growth with the end of the half fiscal and the upcoming general elections. According to them, the demand from the government contractors is rising with every passing day.
An increase in local demand can be assessed with the simple fact that dispatches from the cement factories were recorded at 84,000t Feb, followed by 55,000t on Feb 4 and 60,000 t on Feb 5.