Dar es Salaam . Dangote Cement Factory disclosed yesterday that it has doubled its production in response to a countrywide shortage, which has seen prices of the vital construction raw material rise to new levels.
During the past few weeks, major cement producers reduced production in what was alleged to be a result of putting their clinkers on routine maintenance, sending prices up.
Retail cement prices have since increased by nearly 100 per cent to a maximum of Sh22,000 per bag of 50 kilogrammes, rising from previously Sh12,000.
But the Dangote Cement Country manager, Mr Jagat Rathee, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that after noticing the shortage, the company decided to increase production.
Mr Rathee said, currently, the company is producing at least 5,000 tonnes of cement a day, from 2,500 tonnes a few weeks ago.
“We were somehow busy with the completion of connecting natural gas to the factory and we resumed the production recently, but in small amounts.
“However, after realising that there is a shortage of the product in the market, we increased production,” he said on sidelines of an event where his company signed an agreement with Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation that will see the former use natural gas to generate electricity for use at its factory.
In the past two days, he said, the factory has been releasing at least 3,300 tonnes of cement into the market, up from 2,000 tonnes a few days ago.
“We will not raise our prices. The price will remain the same. We can’t take the shortage as an advantage for generating super profits,” he assured, noting that the impromptu upsurge in cement price will soon go down as the supply increases.
The rising cement prices sent cries across the country, forcing the government to intervene by calling an emergency meeting with stakeholders in Dar es Salaam where they discussed rising prices and a decline in supply.
The closed-door meeting was chaired by the deputy minister for Industries, Trade and Investment, Ms Stella Manyanya, who wanted producers to explain why there was scarcity of cement in the market.“We conducted a quick survey in the market and established that cement is not available and if you found it, it was sold at a high price,” she said.However, she said there was not a strong reason from producers.