The cement shortage in Lampung and Banten provinces, Indonesia, triggered by mechanical problems at the PT Semen Baturaja cement factory in South Sumatra, has propelled the price of the commodity upward (reports The Jakarta Post). A sack of cement, which usually sells for Rp 27,000 (US$3), now costs Rp 36,000, or even as much as Rp 40,000 in several areas in Lampung. Technical problems at Semen Baturaja halted production for 10 days, but the machines were fixed and have been running normally since Saturday. Baturaja cement is the leading brand in the two provinces.
A Baturaja cement distributor in Telukbetung, Bandarlampung, A Ling, said he still had no cement stock in his warehouse as of Monday. He said his company trucks had been queuing for three days at the factory, but were yet to receive their supply quota. A Ling also said he was confused about how much he should charge for the new stock, as the wholesale price listed on the delivery order had surged to Rp 33,000 per sack.
A cement distributor in West Lampung, Syarifudin, 40, said he had to buy cement at Rp 33,000 a sack, and was thus forced to sell it for Rp 36,000 to Rp 38,000 to make a reasonable profit. Meanwhile, a number of shops in Tanjungkarang and Telukbetung are selling cement at Rp 35,000 to Rp 37,000 per sack. The shops’ owners said they had to raise prices because their warehouses had emptied of stock, and because they had to queue for a longer time and pay a higher price for cement supplies.
A director of a cement distributor, Sony Aswan, said her company had completely run out of cement stock. "We usually get 10 truckloads of 320 sacks each. Our stock of cement has been completely exhausted for the past 10 days," she said. She added that customers were constantly angry and accused distributors of hoarding cement to raise the prices. "Actually, we are facing difficulties in obtaining cement," she said.
"The availability of cement is hard to assess right now. Even if there is a supply, the price will be very high. We have to stop the project indefinitely. We feel sorry for the construction workers because the Ramadhan fasting month is just around the corner, and then the Idul Fitri holiday. Where will they get the money to celebrate Idul Fitri?" he said.