Monday, July 22, 2024

Cement Importers Blame The Government for Scarcity and Price Hikes

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By: Dawda Baldeh

The Association of Cement Importers and Traders has blamed the government for the recent scarcity of cement and skyrocketing prices across the country.

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The association stated that the recent permission for their trucks to enter the country was due to the cement shortage and price hikes.

“The main reason the government is allowing our trucks to leave the border is that Jah Oil’s cement stock is running dry and there is no cement in the country. We are aware that Jah Oil’s trucks are heading to Senegal to pick up cement from factories we are not permitted to go to,” said Modou Jobe, a member of the association.

Jobe claimed that the situation is worse in the provinces and that the price of cement is skyrocketing. According to him, local operators in The Gambia have limited coverage of the provinces.

“A bag of cement in Basse costs no less than five hundred and fifty dalasi. In the Kombo area, cement retail was three hundred and ninety dalasi, but today it’s almost four hundred and forty dalasi,” he added.

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Jobe cited this as a major reason for the release of their trucks from the border, where they were kept for nearly 22 days. He argued that the only way Gambians will benefit is to have an oversupply of cement to bring down the price.

“Let the trucks come, let the supply flow, and let the construction industry boom in the country. This directive contradicts Gambia’s commitment to fostering inter-Africa trade,” he emphasized.

Jobe further asserted that this only favors one individual, saying Gambia cannot avoid the importation of cement because the raw materials to manufacture cement are not available in the country.

“We can conclude that the government wants to ban the importation of cement from Senegal. They want Jah Oil to be the only importer of cement in the country without considering the economic impact it has on the Gambian people,” he alleged.

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He also accused Jah Oil of spreading misinformation against their association. However, a week ago, Jah Oil refuted these claims and described them as false and misleading.

The company’s Managing Director, Momodou Hydara, said Jah Oil has not engaged in such acts as claimed by the cement importers’ association.

“We must end this madness. This policy is poorly planned. We directly employ more than three thousand people, from drivers to laborers, not to mention the indirect employment we created for shopkeepers,” he said.

Furthermore, the importers association says the local operators employ fewer than hundreds of people directly. They questioned the government’s unfair treatment of the importers and their employees.

“Are these people not human beings, or are they not Gambians? These people have families to support, so why are they not relevant in this conversation Let’s be honest, this is about protecting the business interests of one individual,” the association said.

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