Bermudan cement supplies could run dry by early next week, an industry chief warned last night. Bermuda Cement Company president Jim Butterfield predicted a "week of agony" loomed with silos at Royal Naval Dockyard so depleted workers now had to get inside and shovel cement out. Butterfield warned it would be "touch and go" whether the remaining cement would last until next Monday or Tuesday.
Fresh supplies are due to arrive from South America next Wednesday. But the president said that shipment of 6500t would have been on the Island much sooner – preventing a "week of agony" – had talks not dragged on over a new lease. News silo supplies are running perilously low comes after lengthy negotiations between a Government quango and the Bermuda Cement Company triggered uncertainty about who would be running the cement operation in the new year. The West End Development Company (Wedco) has now extended the lease for the Bermuda Cement Company to continue to operate from Dockyard until next December. But the cement firm had been preparing to shut down its 40-year operation, after claiming in September it could not accept new demands from Government landlord.
Moves were announced to bring in Cemex to run the Island ’s depot from 2006 for an interim period, before further talks between Wedco and the Bermuda Cement Company extended the current arrangements for another year on December 1 negating the Cemex deal.
Butterfield told The Royal Gazette: "Next Monday and Tuesday could be very tough, we could be looking at empty silos. It’s that close. It’s touch and go."
"It’s going to be a bit patchy because the Bermuda Cement Company held out from bringing in their next shipment. I’ve heard that some people have been stockpiling cement, but it has a short shelf life and the big concrete producers can’t stockpile it," said Alex DeCouto, interim president of the Construction Association of Bermuda.
Mr. DeCouto, backing the lease extension, said: "This is a more helpful position than where we were last month. It is a good thing in the short term but the industry, and I’m sure the Bermuda Cement Company, would like to have a long term solution in place. "I’m glad, and our membership is glad, that some agreement has been reached. The industry has been happy with the Bermuda Cement Company for the past 40 years. "I’d like to see something permanent agreed in the new year."