An acute shortage of cement in the Caribbean island of Grenada has forced building contractors to send home a number of workers and to temporarily close down several construction sites. One of the hardest hit local companies is the Gravel, Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation at Queen’s Park in St. George’s which is perhaps the biggest user of cement on the island. The state–run body has been forced to send home some daily paid and casual workers due to the unavailability of cement to keep up with its production requirements.
Industry sources said that the cement problem being experienced in Grenada is due to difficulties with production at Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), the main supplier of the product on the local market. According to a well–placed source, TCL is currently undergoing a major expansion programme aimed at significantly increasing its production capacity and is providing only a limited amount of cement to customers in Grenada and the Eastern Caribbean.
The Claxton–based cement company started the final phase of its major expansion programme on October 12 but is behind schedule and forced to stop cement milling and as a result it was forced to take 37,000 bags of cement per day out of production.
"We will return to full operation in a little while, as we have been constantly and successfully debugging our systems as we tie–in our new plant with the old", the company told suppliers. Grenada imports about 70, 00 tonnes of cement per year at a cost of approximately EC$16M.
The major importers are Geo. F. Huggins, L.L Ramdhanny and Grenada Steel Works. Since Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada in September 2004, the island has been forced to import large amounts of cement on a regular basis to handle the massive reconstruction work taking place on the housing stock. TCL itself has increased its cement supply to the island by 26 per cent due to the passage of Ivan. The source said that it is virtually impossible for cement importers in Grenada to source the product from elsewhere in the region.