The construction sector has suffered another price hike for cement, months after they had stabilised due to resumption of full capacity production at Cimerwa — the country’s sole cement maker.
A cement bag in Kigali, whose prices had remained at between Rwf8,700 to Rwf9,000 increased to between Rwf9,600 to Rwf10,000 over the past three weeks.
The retail prices were much higher in upcountry areas that get cement supplies from Kigali.
Traders attributed the price increase to a reduction in Hima and Tororo cement supplies amid ongoing tensions between Rwanda and Uganda, while alternative imports from Tanzania still encounter delays and high costs.
Bulk buyers said it was taking up to one week to get cement orders delivered and distributors are grappling with huge demand. The shortage gave a rise to speculation around prices on the few volumes.
“The distributors tell us that we can only get cement if we pay ahead by between three days to a week, but we still run out of stock and close shop for up to four days pending delivery,” said Mohammed, a Nyabugogo-based retailer of Twiga cement, which is made in Tanzania.
“The imports from Tanzania are taking long to get to the country when you consider the clearance time at the borders, and given that cement is not the only commodity being cleared following restrictions of Rwandans to Uganda.
I was in Tanzania last week and saw more than 700 trucks of cement destined for Rwanda while there used to be around 300 trucks,” added Mohammed.
A mini-survey by Rwanda Today found that besides Cimerwa cement, other brands selling in the market are Twiga, Simba and Nyati, which are all Tanzanian sourced and are substitutes for Ugandan-made Hima and Tororo cement.
Hima Cement, which had been tough competition for Cimerwa owing to its relatively cheaper prices was banned from the Rwandan market after reportedly failing to meet the minimum quality standards set by Rwanda Standards body.
However, traders said that even Tororo cement supplies stopped coming in.
Hima and Tororo cement, which sold at Rwf8,400 and Rwf8,700 respectively increased to Rwf9,200 before they run out of stock a few weeks ago, according to traders.
The current shortage and associated price hikes have added to the woes encountered by travel restrictions on borders with Uganda.
The government promised it would provide alternative sources for foodstuffs and commodities which traders were importing from Uganda.