Amid fears of imminent cement shortage as the standoff between the government and the cement importers rages, another key player in the cement industry Jah Oil, has announced the arrival of a vessel carrying 35,000 metric tons.

The measure is seen to be in reaction to accusations by the Cement Importers Association that the companies parading themselves as factories cannot produce enough cement for the country’s consumption.

The importers further alleged that Jah Oil and other ‘factories’ are favoured by government following its decision to increase VAT on cement imports from D30 per bag to D180 per bag.

Addressing journalists Friday at the Banjul Ports, Jah Oil managing director Muhammed Hydara, revealed that his company has bought two Eco Hoppers to be able to anchor the 50,000-metric-tonne capacity vessel but it could bring only 35,000 metric tons because the Banjul landing site is not deep enough to handle a 50,000 metric-tonne vessel.

Hydara said the heavy investment Jah Oil undertook in acquiring Eco Hoppers is to be able to bring mega vessels to land in The Gambia, a deep demonstration of how much “we have invested in the cement industry.”

He predicted that soon vessels will overlap at the Banjul port as his company will bring between 10, 000 and 15,000 tons of cement regularly.

“There is now enough cement in the country as all the shops are fully stocked, and vehicles loaded at our factory, waiting for orders. What this means is that we will not have any choice but to shut down operations from time to time. This means we will be supplying based on need because we do not have enough customers. If you come to the factory every morning, you will find up to 40 to 50 vehicles fully loaded waiting for customers, so we don’t have capacity at Jah Oil,” he said.

Price sabotage

Mr Hydara alleged there is sabotage in the cement business because while prices in the factory are still D355 per bag, some vendors sell it at D450, which is insane.

He said those operators who claimed there will be shortage if they don’t import have been proven wrong and so they are going about sabotaging the price to prove a point.

“But you cannot go up to D450, making D70 profit in every bag of cement. That is very unreasonable. I think those doing this should drop the habit because they are not hurting Jah Oil, but the people. We are committed to ensuring that our cement reaches every corner of the country for people to have access to it,” he said.

Source: The Standard

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