Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Jamaica faces cement shortage again - Company blames challenges in packaging operation

Published:Sunday | April 9, 2017 | 4:00 AM
A truck leaving Carib Cement's Rockfort plant laden with the product.

Caribbean Cement Company has confirmed reports reaching The Sunday Gleaner of a shortage of cement across the island.

Since last week, hardware merchants and dealers have been telling our newsroom that they have been unable to meet demand because of a lack of supply from Carib Cement.

Last Friday, the company said it was aware of the supply challenges within the retail market and that every effort was being made to address the situation.

"The gaps in retail trade have resulted from challenges in the packaging operations which are being rectified," the company said in a statement.

"In an effort to immediately address the issues in the local retail market, Carib Cement has already implemented investments, initiatives and activities to address the issues within the retail market.

"To this end, Carib Cement has suspended all exports to fully dedicate and prioritise the local market. The company is pleased that major development projects have remained on course, and clearly understands the critical importance of the construction industry to ongoing development and growth," added the company.

Carib Cement expressed regret at the inconvenience caused by the supply challenges and said it would continue working assiduously to resolve the situation.

"The company will be embarking on major maintenance overhaul during the Easter holiday, which should result in increased volumes to the market and restore stability.

 

Extensive upgrades

 

"Carib Cement has been investing extensively in upgrading the production and packaging operations to ensure consistent supply to the growing local and international markets," said Carib Cement.

This is the second time in the past seven months that Jamaica has faced a shortage in supply from the island's sole cement manufacturer.

Last September, Carib Cement noted that despite spending US$5.5 million to increase its capacity, there was a tightness in the supply of cement.

At that time, the company blamed its inability to meet demand on an overhaul of the kiln and one of its cement mills at its Rockfort plant.

"In anticipation of this work, our inventories were increased to satisfy any downturn in supply. Despite those actions, during that period, our supply to the market was at 90 per cent of peak demand, leading to a slight rationing of supply," the company said in a release then, as it promised that this failure to meet demand would soon be a thing of the past.