Building Constructors wail over persistent increase of Cement

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Construction industry players in the Eastern Region have expressed worry over persistent increases in cement prices and called for a national action to curb the trend.

Ghana’s construction sector appears to be performing well and contributes substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and employment, experts say.

Most players, who spoke with Ghana News Agency, said persistent hikes in the price of cement and other building materials had raised the cost of building and contributed to increases in house rent.

This is expected as the Ghana Statistical Service predicted that the demand for cement, a key indicator of construction activity, would increase consistently from 8.8 million metric tonnes in 2017 to 12.5 million by 2021.

Cement prices were anticipated to grow by 3.9 percent in 2019 and 2020.

A market survey conducted by GNA early this month showed that the price of a bag of cement, which was sold for ¢38 last year, surged to about ¢45 in March 2021.

Sampson Koomson, a private building contractor, said since Ghana’s economy continued to expand, cement was very key to infrastructural development.

However, constant increases in the prices of building materials would have serious repercussions on the economy.

He said rising prices of cement was one of the reasons contractors undertook shoddy works when awarded contracts.The high price of cement, he said, was being fueled by an intermittent shortage in most retail stores.

Mr Koomson blamed the surging prices on the high cost of imported clinkers, materials for manufacturing cement, and the depreciation of the Ghana cedi against major trading currencies.

A mason, Ernest Larbi, who described cement as the second most used material after water in the construction industry, attributed the rising price to new residential developments, particularly in cities.

Mr Enoch Acquah, who has been in the cement retail business for over five years, added that the recent cement price increment had slowed down cement business.

He also said price instability has made the building of houses very difficult and challenging for private residents in Koforidua, forcing several people to move into their uncompleted buildings “due to their inability to cope with the drastic increase in cement price.”

Joseph Glover, a cement seller, said GHACEM announced an upward adjustment in prices of its products, citing depreciation of the cedi against major international currencies.

Mr Samuel Tsumasi, a contractor, said cement price hikes had triggered increases in the prices of other building materials, saying, “People are no longer focused on completing their buildings.”

“Due to this some people have opted for makeshift buildings, wooden structures,” he added, “Even though the price of wood has increased it is not like that of cement.”

Mr Joseph Mustapha Mohammed, Chief Executive of Moose Enterprise, said the increase in cement prices had increased iron rod prices by 40 per cent, roofing sheets by 2 per cent while prices of plumbing materials also went up astronomically.

He said the situation had led to low patronage and a fall in profit margins and called for national action to promote stiffer competition among cement producers to help pull down the price.

Some also attributed the low market sales of building materials to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, saying, all building materials have gone up, leading to sluggish sales.

The GNA survey also established upturn in other building materials like Sand (per trip) ¢300; Plywood ¢37 – ¢145; iron rod (per price) ¢9 – ¢335, Blocks ¢3.50 and Roofing sheets (per pack) ¢750 – ¢950.

Ghana’s construction industry employs approximately 420,000 people and an estimated 2,500 active building and construction contractors operating in the local market.

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