Zimbabwe’s cement manufacturers have hiked prices by 28 per cent, a fourth increase this year alone which is likely to deal a hammer blow to the country’s tottering construction industry. A survey by The Property Gazette revealed that the price of the most common type of cement, PC15, had increased from $42,000 in October to $54,000 this month. The new price represents an 80 per cent increase from the January 2004 prices.
Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe president Gilbert Matika said the continuous rise in cement prices dampened construction activities because the product was the sector’s major ingredient. Building contractors said the price hike would force them out of business because potential clients were likely to suspend projects due to their inability to foot the bills.
"The housing delivery system is in shambles . . . the government’s intention of ensuring the provision of houses for low-income earners is being hampered by the continuous rise in the price of cement," one industry player said.
Cement producers, who are still to recover from the debilitating effects of government-imposed price controls at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in 2001-2003, have said the high energy charges were chewing into their profit margins, threatening their viability.