In a random interview with this paper on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, the cement dealers observed that most of the cement being imported in the country are of low quality as compared to the cement from the Liberia Cement Corporation (CEMENCO)- the only industry manufacturing cement in the country.
According to them, the locally made cement from CEMENCO is the best with high quality.
“Safeguard measures serve as an emergency relief provided to the domestic industry that is seriously injured by sudden and sharp increases in cement imported on the Liberia market,” said one of the cement dealers, Mr. Joseph Vincent from Bomi County.
Vincent, who expressed outraged over the situation, intimated that safeguard measures can come in various forms, including an increase on the imposition of duty on imported cement.
Among other things, he added that it is important to protect the local manufacture because as he puts it, “the local manufacturer pays huge taxes to government, employs more Liberians and burns more fuel on generator in the absent of stable electricity”.
Cement imported from Cote d’Ivoire and Turkey on the Liberian market exceeds 150 kg annually and account for more than 30% of Liberia’s consumptions.
This paper has established that increase in import of cement is affecting demand for locally produced cement to such an extent that a major manufacturer considering tabling plants, retrenching staff and putting expansion plans on hold.
The effect of the cheap imports on the Liberian cement producer, this paper further established, is impaired by a slump of unprecedented proportions in the local construction sector with former giant in the industry already having shut or struggling for survival.
“This is also affecting us-the cement dealers, and therefore, the GoL must see reason to put into safeguard measures on the huge quantity of cement being imported in the country so as to bring relief to the local manufacturer and us the cement dealers, because what affects the local manufacturer also affects us the dealers,” commented Mr. Sam Doe, a cement dealer in Kakata City, Margibi County.
Similar views were also expressed by other cement dealers in Montserrsdo, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties who also spoke to this paper yesterday.
Meanwhile, the management team of CEMENCO, which is headed by Managing Director Mr. Williams Philippe Gaignard, has not officially commented on the concern expressed by several of the cement dealers across the country.
However, it was gathered via credible sources that the management team is said to be worried about the increase of imported cement on the local market.
The CEMENCO management team, according to our sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the protection of the cement industry in Liberia should be a decisive factor for the continued investment of CEMENECO in the country.
“CEMENCO does not own any monopoly in the country due to the huge importation of bags cement in the country. The preservation of employment and revenue to government are threatened by the massive influx of cement manufactured abroad. To protect employment and to continue production of Liberian Cement, CEMENCO needs the support of the Liberian Government,” our sources quoted the management team of CEMENCO as stating.
However, the CEMENCO management team, the sources added, is committed to providing quality cement to all of the regions in Liberia to enable every Liberia family build their homes with quality cement and not clay.