Rising cement prices hit hard on low earners

Rising cement prices hit hard on low earners
Published: 31 August 2006

Low-income earners are ever more finding it hard to own a home, thanks to the ever rising prices of construction materials, especially Portland cement. Speaking to The Guardian in a random survey in Dar es Salaam, a number of residents have complained that their construction activities were not progressing because building supplies, particularly cement, was too expensive and therefore, remained a preserve of the rich.

Separately, the Deputy Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing Dr. David Mathayo David asked Cement manufacturers to charge fair prices to their customers. ’It would be wise if you could sit down and discuss how to reduce the price of your product as this in turn would make your item more attractive to consumers,’’ Mathayo said then.

The Minister made the remark in his March tour this year at the Twiga Cement factory located on the outskirts of the city.

In June last year, the price of a unit bag of cement weighing fifty kilograms ranged from 7,500/- to 8,000/-. Currently, the commodity is purchased at between 9,500/- to 10,000 at any wholesale and retail trade shops. In the countryside, a bag of the commodity trades at 10,500/- to 11,000/- for the both brand names of Twiga,Tembo and Simba.

Reached for some comments, the survey learnt from the manufacturers that their companies were not to be blamed but put the prices they are charging on the operation costs and problems including power shortages and poor infrastructure in the country. Power shortage for instance, has forced Tanga Cement to import coal from South Africa and has bought its own train wagons to transport cement to the Lake Region.

Yet, the inefficiency besetting Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) system has pushed its cement price up, to the extent that it is finding it difficult to compete with cheaper products from other East African countries. The escalating price of fuel oil worldwide has equally inflated the production cost of Portland cement.