Makkah contractors facing cement crisis

More than 300 construction projects facing suspension due to cement shortage

Falling reserves of cement stock have triggered a crisis in Makkah, with the price of a single bag of cement reaching SAR20 on the black market, media reports have said.

Local contractors say that they fear that more than 300 construction projects will be suspended due to the shortage of cement in the Holy City. Meanwhile, other contractors have said that they have resorted to buying cement at higher prices on the black market because they fear being slapped with heavy fines for not completing projects at the agreed-upon times.

Abdullah Al Saeedi, chairman of the Contractors Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) said that the chamber planned to raise the issue with the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry to find an immediate solution.

“The crisis began to unfold 10 days ago when distributors failed to meet the rising demand for cement,” Al Saeedi said, though he warned that prices could rise even further.

A report in Arab News said that the shortage could be more acute next year, with the expansion work of some cement factories likely to last at least 18 months, with the establishment of new factories likely to take as long as 24 to 30 months.

In the Taif market, the price of a cement bag has reached SAR21, the paper said, adding that even black market supplies have been reduced to a trickle.

The report added that the situation could lead to unexpected delays in the completion of a number of projects, despite the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s assurance that it was in total control of the situation.

However, traders and truck drivers said that factories were not releasing sufficient quantities of cement to the market. They said that factories were supplying only one full load for each truck in a week, compared to the past when three or four loads would be available for each truck per week.

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