Rwanda has turned to Kenya for cement supplies to plug a deficit linked to import bottlenecks in Tanzania.
Rwanda has been importing cement from Tanzania following a diplomatic row with Uganda since February 2019.
The market is also facing high cement prices as a result of speculation, which could drive up the cost of infrastructure projects including the ongoing massive construction of classrooms ahead of reopening of schools.
For over a month, local importers indicate that the flow of cement imports from Tanzania has come to a standstill owing to what they call “delays by factories to serve Rwandan customers as they prioritise local projects ahead of elections.”
This exacerbated the persistent cement demand in the market as containers’ waiting time moved from one day to two weeks, thereby extending delivery time to one month from a maximum of four days previously.
Rwanda Today has learnt that a meeting by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation had resolved to reroute the trucks stationed in Dar es Salaam to Kenya where they are expected to bring the much-needed cement to urgently plug a shortage in the market.
Andre Bitwayiki who heads a firm running heavy-duty trucks facilitating the import of goods including cement confirmed the development but did not indicate exactly how many trucks deployed, volumes, and when they expected the consignments to start arriving.
“We have sent containers to different cement factories in Kenya namely Bamburi, Simba and Savanna, they should bring enough cement to meet the demand by the Ministry of Education,” he said.
Demand from state projects and individual construction activities has continued to exert pressure on the country’s sole cement maker with a 600,000-tonne capacity that only serves half of the estimated 66,666 tonnes monthly demand with the rest being imported.
With the planned construction of 22,505 classrooms by the end of August, the government is understood to have tasked Cimerwa to provide 125,000 metric tonnes for the project.
A survey in the market revealed that Cimerwa which initially released a small volume to the market as it prioritized State projects.