Roof collapse halts production at Lafarge

Staff Reporter

Lafarge Cement has temporarily stopped the production of cement due to the collapse of the roof of its mill section on 11 October, 2021 a development that explains the shortage of cement on the market.

A contact within the cement manufacturer said production would resume in 70 days’ time.

 “The Manresa plant has stopped production of cement because the roof of its mill section collapsed on 11 October 2021.  The company is planning to have the plant up and running within 70 days,” said the contact.

The production stoppage comes on the heels of another major breakdown that took close to a month to be rectified. In July, the company had to source a bearing component from outside the country.

The shortage of cement has affected citizens, mostly farmers who had started using their farming revenues to resuscitate construction projects.

“We just received our income from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the grain we delivered from the 2020/21 farming season.  For this 2021/22 season, we plan to produce flue-cured tobacco, and had planned to use our income to build tobacco barns for use in that production process, before the onset of the rains. 

“It has been difficult to get cement as it is in short supply and difficult to find, and when we do find it, it is very expensive.  Previously we bought cement PC15 for US$8 and now it costs US$11,” said Cuthbert Mhonda from Gabaza farm in Beatrice.

A builder in Sandton, Mt Hapmpden, said they were behind schedule with their construction work, which should break before the onset of the rain season, due to shortages of cement.

“We will soon be shutting down when the rain season sets in which is in a couple of weeks, so we had intended to push much of our work before then but the shortage of cement has drawn us behind schedule. Some of the houses will remain unfinished. Varungu varikushaya cement, pavarikuyiwana haisi kutengeka,” said Chairman Zapa

Larfarge Cement recently recovered from a major breakdown which was due to a faulty bearing component. This resulted in work stoppage that lasted for a month as the component was sourced outside the country.  Consequently, the company is currently faced with a backlog that threatens to take a while to clear.

This situation leaves two other cement manufacturing companies, Pretoria Portland Cement and Collen Bawn, a Gwanda Cement company to carry the burden.  The production of the combined cement companies is 2 million tonnes per year against a demand of 1.3 million tonnes.  The cement manufacturing industry contributes 4% of the country’s GDP and employs about 1400 people.