Production back on track, Carib Cement assures customersSunday, August 22, 2021
BY GARFIELD MYERS
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Caribbean Cement Company says local manufacturing of cement is set to go to the “next level” soon, following major maintenance of its kiln at Rockfort in east Kingston.
Carib Cement, part of the Caribbean-wide TCL group, was responding to queries from the Jamaica Observer following complaints from hardware operators in south-central Jamaica about frustrating shortages of cement and long delays in receiving the product.
The three-paragraph e-mailed statement from Carib Cement said the recent passage of Tropical Storm Grace close to north-eastern Jamaica slowed cement deliveries but that its kiln was back in production after maintenance.
The statement read: “Deliveries of cement have...been excellent throughout the island after Tropical Storm Grace slowed down our deliveries last week.
“Our kiln is now back in operation after a successful general shutdown, which has now been completed.
“This major maintenance was long scheduled and will take Jamaica's cement local manufacturing to the next level in the coming months.”
Leading hardware operators including Santa Cruz-based Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern Delroy Slowley (Jamaica Labour Party) and his immediate predecessor, Evon Redman (People's National Party) spoke of their frustration in recent times.
“I have had no cement since last week, none…,” Redman, who heads Levon Electrical & Hardware, told the Sunday Observer.
“Right now, I am owing customers about 1,000 bags of cement,” Redman said.
Slowley, who heads True Bargain Hardware, said that in order to ensure all his customers get some cement he has had to adopt a system akin to rationing.
“I have been limiting sales just to make sure everybody can get a little,” said Slowley, who defeated the PNP's Basil Waite in last September's parliamentary election to hand St Elizabeth North Eastern to the JLP for the first time since 1980.
“I have been losing sales,” said Slowley.
Courtney Cameron of Camric Hardware, also based in Santa Cruz, told the Sunday Observer that while he got a supply of imported cement from Carib Cement on Friday he had been without the product for several days previously.
Cameron said the construction industry — which reports suggest is booming despite the effects of the pandemic — is slowing down because of cement shortages.
“Cement is the foundation,” Cameron said. “Without the cement we can't do anything.”
A representative for Struan Hardware of Christiana in northern Manchester confirmed that the shortages were widespread. “No, we don't,” she said when asked if her outlet had the product. She said last Tuesday was the last time her store had received a load.
Hardware operators reported that in recent times, cement supplies to them have all been imported. That's apparently in sync with Carib Cement's statement that the local kiln had been shut down for maintenance.
For Redman the imported product presented an added problem of wastage, with “burst bags” resulting in dust nuisance and triggering sinusitis and related respiratory problems for employees.
He theorised that the “high percentage of burst bags” in the imported product is the result of “stress” on packaging during extended transportation by ship and road, as well as loading and offloading.