Local cement producers Shayona Cement Corporation based in Kasungu and Cement Products Limited (CPL) based in Mangochi have missed commissioning deadlines for their second phase projects due to procurement challenges, among others.
The two firms embarked on an expansion drive a couple of years ago and were hoping to have their second phases ready for commissioning in the first half of this year.
Commissioning for the second phase for Shayona was supposed to be done in April but it has been shifted to a later date.
As for CPL, commissioning was supposed to take place in February, but has been shifted to April this year.
Shayona managing director Jitendra Patel and CPL chairman Aslam Gaffar confirmed in separate interviews of the challenges and the postponements.
Said Patel: “The business environment is still sluggish due to imported cement which has flooded our market and has forced us to reduce production by almost half.
“In a normal scenario, we were supposed to be producing 14 000 bags per day, but we are only taking to the market 7 000 bags per day.
He said the reduction in output has forced the company’s management to relocate some employees to other departments because the company does not want to fire them.
“If we commission the second phase, we will stop importing clinker and the country will save about $50 million [about K36 billion] in foreign exchange,” said Patel.
On his part, Gaffar said their budget for expanding the factory will overshoot by about 12 percent due to the delays, but was hopeful that works will be completed within the year.
He said: “We are not on schedule as regards the second phase, the main reason being challenges with procurement. This will make our budget to overshoot by about 12 percent but there is nothing we can do about it.
“This is a viable project because it will help us create 400 new jobs and we will also stop importing clinker.”
Local cement producers continue to cry foul over the availability of cheaper cement from Zambia being manufactured by billionaire Aliko Dangote.
Minister of Trade Industry and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha has always been assuring local cement producers that government will not allow importation of cement to kill local production firms. n