Qatar’s construction sector is again facing acute shortage of cement and construction materials, industry sources said yesterday. Many construction firms fear they will not be able to finish their contracts in time because of the shortage. The manager of a leading construction company said besides the delay in getting cement and other construction materials, adequate quantities were also often not available. "In place of some 1300 bags we require a day, if we manage some 400 bags daily we consider ourselves lucky," he said.
While the Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC) has not increased the price of ordinary portland cement (OPC), which is QR11.75/bag, retailers are charging around QR22. "But the problem is that a retailer cannot provide even 25 bags at a time. So we cannot rely on the retail market to meet our demands," he pointed out.Sources said Qatar’s construction boom had placed a huge demand for cement and other construction materials. Unable to cope with the demand the QNCC has started importing cement from India, Indonesia and Egypt among other places.
The QNCC has already boosted its production. The existing two QNCC plants have an annual combined production capacity of 90,000 tonnes of clinker and 1.3mn tonnes of cement. With capacity enhancement work at the QNCC completed, the company is now able to supply in excess of 50,000 bags of cement to the local market daily. The capacity boost has provided additional 6000 bags daily, sources added.
Qatar’s requirement for cement is one of the highest in the region, according to the Arab Union of Cement Producers. "The bulk of the cement is being used in construction activities connected with the 2006 Doha Asiad. The ongoing infrastructure upgrade also consumes a significant quantity of cement and construction materials," sources said. Meanwhile, work is fast progressing on the establishment of a third plant at the Qatar National Cement Company site at Umm Bab.
The plant, expected to go onstream in 2006, would double the company’s annual cement production capacity from the current 1.3Mt to 2.6Mt.