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Cement manufacturers debunk importers association

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By Lamin Cham

The association of Gambian manufacturers has defended three of its members dealing in cement, Jah Oil, Salam Cement and Gacem, accused by importers of receiving government favour in the wake of the recent increase in import duty.

The sudden increase led to huge uproar and a protest by the cement importers association who said the new tariff is unbearably high and aimed at killing their business to protect Jah Oil and colleagues.

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But in a prepared rebuttal shared with The Standard, the manufacturers association said importers ‘are mainly foreigners working towards the economic and industrial growth of another country and effectively marginalising and killing already established industries in The Gambia’.

They further argued that Jah Oil and the other two companies combined have installed a production capacity of 185,000 bags of cement per day (Jah 110,000, Salam 50,000 and Gacem 25,000).

“The daily average consumption of cement in The Gambia in the peak period is between 100-110,000 bags per day while in the lean period, only 45-50,000 is consumed per day,” the manufacturers said.

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On the allegations that these companies themselves are importers and not manufacturers, the manufacturers said Jah Oil mostly imports bulk cement from Türkiye or Morocco and re-bag it at its facilities in Brikama whereas Salam, over the years has evolved from importing bulk cement to actual manufacturing of cement at its factory.

They said Gacem too imports bulk cement from its parent companies and do the re-bagging here.

They further explained that the three local companies are currently operating at less than 10 per-cent of their installed capacity and have a combined investment of more than 75 million dollars and a staff population of   over 5,000 direct and indirect employees which could significantly increase if they are at 100 per cent operational level.

“This would mean more jobs, tax, social security contributions, for the people of The Gambia to benefit from,” the manufacturers said.

They accused the importers association of serving the interest of foreign cement factories and they are ‘the very culprits hiking the price of cement over the years in the country’.

“This is evidenced by a known fact that whenever Jah Oil is out of the market, the price of cement goes up and when they  enters the market the price will always come down,” the association said.

On claims that the locally produced cement is  of low quality, the manufacturers said both Jah Oil and Gacem cement have  been scientifically proven by engineers in diverse areas to be of  more superior quality to the type imported into the country hence no  government or international projects   recommend the types imported from across the border .

“They claimed that they have been paying D6M a day, but that is false aimed at blindfolding people because all cement coming from Senegal are cleared by the Ministry of Trade through the ETLS and our findings indicates that these figures are absolute false,” the manufacturers said.

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