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By Omar Bah

The Managing Director of Jah Oil Company, Momodou Hydara, has denied claims that there is a cement shortage in The Gambia.

The Cement Importers Association has raised the alarm that there could be a shortage of cement and an eventual increase in price. The association alleged that Jah Oil and other cement factories in the country have been favoured by the government. This trade of allegations came following the government’s decision to increase VAT on cement imports from D30 per bag to D180 per bag.

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But addressing journalists yesterday at the company’s headquarters in Brikama, Mr. Hydara said the country’s leading cement producer has the capacity to produce 100,000 bags a day.

“In three days, Jah Oil can produce enough cement to supply the entire country. We are able to do this because our capacity is massive. Just on Sunday, there was a long queue of vehicles, but they were all loaded and dispatched,” he said.

Hydara said there is a massive campaign funded by some Senegalese business tycoons to kill the cement industry in The Gambia.

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“They are financed by Senegalese business moguls, who are taking all the money. This is why you always hear there is a shortage of CFA here and there. Even the trucks they are using are owned by these Senegalese, but they registered them with Gambian number plates because those vehicles don’t meet the requirements to be registered in Senegal. So, those who are saying we cannot supply enough cement for the country’s consumption are lying. They have started a campaign that says we are increasing our prices, but that is not true because we have never gone beyond our D355 wholesale price,” he said.

He said Jah Oil has been the victim of unfair criticism by some businesses due to their competitive business nature.

Government favour

Mr. Hydara described as ‘nonsensical’ allegations that Jah Oil is favoured by the government.

“If we were favoured by the government, we would not have been out of business in 2023. We closed down our factory because the conditions were not favourable to us,” he said.

He said Jah’s concept and principle of doing business is to make a small profit and help others grow.

“This is why Jah Oil always has the most competitive prices. But our competitors don’t want us to do these things because it is not in their favour. They feel we are destroying the market by coming up with such competitive prices,” he said.

Hydara said that in most cases, when there is a shortage of cement, the government and private construction companies rely on Jah Oil to rescue the country.

“So, Gambians should be assured that with Jah Oil in operation there would never be a shortage of cement. We have done a lot of work around that and this is why we have tried to engage the cement importers to reach a compromise with them but the conditions they brought forward were too unfriendly that we could not even entertain them,” he said. Hydara said the country’s cement importers are aware that Jah Oil has the capacity to produce enough cement but they are refusing to work with the company because it refused to give them the incentives they are getting from Senegal.

He urged Gambians to put their differences aside and support Gambian-owned businesses to help build the economy.


“Regarding cement importers’ claim that they paid 6,000,000 a day in taxes, which totals 2,160,000,000 dalasi but in 2023 statistics shows that only 227,000 metric tons of cement came into the country, and when you calculate that by the 30-dalasi VAT, it only totals to 136,200,000 dalasi.

Now, where is the other over two billion dalasi they stole from the people?

I am encouraging the government to investigate that fraud.”

He said in May alone, Jah Oil paid D70 million in cement taxes. “We are doing everything to fight for The Gambia.”

He argued that majority of those involved in the import of cement are not Gambians.

“You see, we should protect our Gambian factories. We cannot allow other countries’ products in our market when they don’t allow us to enter their country. If there is a free trade of goods between all West African states, we should all respect the agreement,” he said.

He said the Jah Oil retail shops will not be closed because if that happens, the prices will be hiked by businesses.

Hydara also gave a marathon rundown on how Mr. Hamidou Jah started his business from a humble background and became one of Gambia’s leading businessmen.

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