Importation of cement into Zambia will only be allowed when there is a production shortfall at Chilanga Cement Plc, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Davidson Chilipamushi has said. "We can only allow importation of cement under special circumstances, otherwise we are not in support of it," he said. "But I don't think it would be right to completely ban the importation. It should only be allowed on account of operational problems at Chilanga Cement Plc which may cause short supply."
Over the last four weeks, there has been shortage of cement on the market, creating need for the importation of the commodity and forcing prices of the commodity to be hiked by retailers. Chilanga Cement Plc was accused of deliberately creating the shortage to facilitate price increases. But Chilanga Cement Plc managing director Ian Coulter said on Wednesday that the shortage of the commodity was aggravated by the failure of an electric cement mill motor at their Ndola plant. Coulter said the company was accelerating the repairs and was confident that cement supply would return to normal soon. He said Chilanga Cement Plc had nothing to do with hiked prices as they were set by traders themselves. "Chilanga Cement Plc does not have the mandate to set or recommend retail selling prices," Coulter said.