A group of quantity surveyors have slammed Lafarge Cement Malawi’s two percent downward revision of cement prices, one of the critical ingredients in the construction industry, arguing that the decrease is insignificant.
Lafarge Cement last week announced a two and three percent reduction of its cement prices. In a statement, the company’s general manager Bruno Hounkpati said the price revision was in response to the prevailing economic conditions.
“As a responsible and caring company we have to continuously respond to market conditions either way,” Hounkpati said.
However, Malawi Polytechnic’s land economy and quantity surveying head of department, Rodrick Lengama Chilipunde, said that cement prices in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region is in the ranges of $6-10 (K2 100 – K3 500) for a 50 kilograme bag.
“In a survey that we conducted from July 2011 to July 2012, we found out that cement in the Sadc region costs in the ranges of $6-10. But in Malawi the cost of cement is about $19, so a discount of two or three percent is quite insignificant and in essence meaningless.
“It is clear that government needs to take measures to address the exorbitant cement prices in the country. It seems the pricing of a monopoly is at play on the market that is taking advantage to overcharge Malawians,” he said.
He pointed out that they understand that clinker has to be imported from Zimbabwe, but dismissed the view that clinker imports could make the prices go that high.
The concern also follows government intervention over the same prices where Minister of Mining, John Bande recently engaged cement companies on ways that could be deployed to bring the cement prices down.
He encouraged cement producers to consider producing the clinker locally so that cement prices are lowered.