Prices of cement have increased by 33 percent in the past two weeks to K8,000 per 50 kilogram (kg) bag, a development traders have attributed to scarcity of the product on the market.
Spot checks by the Business Times in some cement shops in Blantyre’s Central Business District reveal that people are scrambling for cement and it is mostly sold out soon after offloading.
One of the customers we met at a shop in the city a Mr. Patel said in a space of two week he has bought the product at different prices.
He said at first he bought a 50kg bag at K6,500 but was surprised earlier this week being asked to pay K8, 000 for the same quantity.
“I was amazed with the new price and the justification the sellers gave was that cement has become scarce on the market, this is a very huge burden on us consumers,” Patel said.
A salesman at one of the dealer shops in the city, Isaac Jonasi, said the only way people can buy cement is by placing orders before stocks are delivered.
“Once cement arrives here, it is sold immediately and the best way is to plae an order so that we can keep it for you and the price is K8,000, otherwise you cannot buy cement,” Jonasi said.
In a statement published recently, one of the cement manufacturing companies, Cement Products Limited (CPL) condemned traders for raising the prices saying the wholesale price has not changed.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Trade has said it has investigated the matter and that it is stemming from increase in prices of cement in Zambia where most of the imported cement products come from.
Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, said they have already consulted importing companies on how the product should flood the market to stabilise prices.
“We are in talks with the local manufacturers to up their capacity and CPL will be producing additional 500 tonnes per day in the next few days, Lafarge is also bringing 15 000 tonnes and they are loading as we speak,” Gwengwe said.
In November 2017, Malawi experienced another shortage of cement which saw prices of the product increase by 60 percent.
Cement is a vital product for Malawi owing to its growing construction industry that supports the country’s development plans.