Carib Cement says that damage inflicted by Hurricane Ivan to part of its infrastructure has not retarded its capacity to satisfy the local demand for cement, and that it has some 276,000 bags of the product in its warehouses, ready for delivery. The production facilities are located near the sea, at Rockfort, the eastern tip of Kingston, one of the more badly his areas during the hurricane that passed through the island last week Friday and Saturday.
The cement firm, in a press release said it was "still adding up the damage from Hurricane Ivan" and that it sustained loss "to process stock, buildings and equipment. Loss to stock included coal, gypsum, clinker and cement". The company had shut down the plant in what it called "a precautionary measure" ahead of the storm, but said it expected full resumption of production by this weekend.
"Carib Cement is anxious to resume full operations and will restart on a phased basis from today (Wednesday). The company is aiming to resume all operations by the end of the week," said the press statement. The company quickly issued the assurance of its ability to satisfy demand, in an apparent move to preempt any possible complaint that its virtual monopoly control of the market, might be placing cement users at a disadvantage.
The cement firm recently sought, and secured from the Jamaican authorities, a near 50% duty on imported cement, with the government embracing its argument that it needed the protection while it invested US$100 million in plant upgrade.
Two large local importers have virtually stopped bringing foreign cement into the Jamaican market, arguing that the duty made this business unprofitable. They had argued against the duty on the claim that Carib Cement was not able to satisfy the entire market demand.
On Wednesday, Carib Cement’s general manager, Anthony Haynes, said the company’s warehouses in Rockfort, Portmore, Mandeville and Montego Bay were all full, and that the product was made available for sale from these depots beginning earlier this week. Haynes also said that Carib Cement would be importing clinker to meet the shortfall in the interim.