By Omar Bah
The general manager of Jah Oil multi-industrial company has told The Standard that the company’s cement industry will soon suspend its production and start importing from Senegal as it struggles to cope with the “heavy influx” of Senegalese cement into the country.
“We are just trying to exhaust what we have in stock. After that, we are going to transform from a productive industry to a training industry and what that means is we will suspend temporarily our production and then be importing the lower quality and cheaper Senegalese cement and sell it below D300. We will need only a few employees to do that,” Momodou Hydara told The Standard. Mr Hydara said Jah Oil has already laid off over hundred of its staff. Jah Oil, Salam, and Gacem are the only producers of cement in The Gambia. According to Mr Hydara, the three companies are forced to send about 350 staff home because they continue to be pushed to the edge with the incursion of Senegalese cement.
He said they have tried everything to make the government or people understand that the influx of the “low quality” Senegalese cement will kill the Gambian cement industry “without success”.
“I have hosted a lot of radio programs trying to explain to people that the Senegalese cement they are buying will have lasting consequences on their structures in the future but they will not listen. So now we have decided that enough is enough,” he said.
He added: “What Senegal is dumping into this country is 32.5R compared to the local industries 42.5R which is European standard, so obviously we cannot compete when it comes to prices because they are not producing what we are producing and Senegal produces this material from raw. They don’t import it because they are lucky to have the raw material at their disposal. They mine them there, so they have double advantage coupled with the fact that when they are coming across the border, the mode of transport they use is trucks which is cheaper than vessels because we hire vessels to bring our products from Europe and they arrive here with high cost and we also pay demurrage charges which go up to $40, 000 a day.”
Mr Hydara said even government contractors are not crazy to use the Senegalese cement for their construction because it is not recommended internationally.
D1 billion tax
According to the Gambia Revenue Authority, Jah Oil pays over D65 million on taxes on a monthly basis and D1 billion annually. But Mr Hydara said with the suspension of its cement industry, the company will be paying less than half of the D1 billion.
“There will be huge implications in terms of the taxes because with this current situation, we might go below half of the D1 billion we pay annually,” he added.