Block units hit hard by cement shortage

Block units hit hard by cement shortage
Published: 19 June 2006

The ongoing cement shortage has badly affected the companies making cement blocks, said a report in a local Arabic daily. “Because of the shortage, we hardly can meet half of the demand from the construction companies,” said the owner of a block factory.

“The current shortage of cement is about 9700 tonnes a day. The only way to meet the deficit is to import the material. We know that there is another cement company coming up but it would take two years to start production.

“Less production means more loses to me. The government must find a solution to this problem. The domestic production of cement meets only a portion of the total demand for cement by blocks manufacturing companies and building projects in Qatar.” He said he brought in cement from Saudi Arabia at a higher price to keep his factory going.

“We hope that the cement companies take this situation seriously and increase their production so that they spare us from possible losses due to the frequent halts in production and the rise in cement prices,” he said.

The owner of a ready mix company said that such units are operating only up to 25 per cent of their capacity, though there is a high demand for concrete. “The cement crisis started in 2004 with the construction boom. The fact that one cement company has the monopoly for manufacturing and importing of cement gave a solid ground for the crisis. Lack of accurate data on the actual need for building materials for the ongoing construction projects also has contributed to the current situation.

“Another factor was the low price of cement in Qatar, compared to its prices world-wide. This made many international companies averse to the idea of investing in the cement sector in Qatar.”

Another reason for the shortage was the delay in unloading shipments. “Mesaieed Port is the only harbour that can receive large ships. This and other ports are unable to handle effectively the large number of ships that bring in the construction materials from all over the world as the unloading operations are very slow.