KOCHI: As cement has been kept idle for more than a month contractors and home builders are worried their stocks would become unusable. Small scale contractors and people who are building their houses and properties say the cement they have stocked have already started to cake. Even cement vendors are concerned about the stock that has already become useless.
"These bags were brought to the godown before the lockdown. It has turned into hard lumps. We will suffer huge loss if the manufactures do not take it back. There is also an issue of disposing damaged cement," said VD George, a Kochi-based contractor. He said the manufactures have not responded to requests for taking back damaged stock and providing compensation for vendors.
In places where large quantities of cement have been stocked, the vendors seek government assistance to dispose it. Cement is not expected to last for more than three months without getting damaged.KeralaGovernment Contractor’s Association (KGCA) president Varghese Kannampilly said that the strength of cement starts to deteriorate by 20% within three months of its manufacturing, by six months 40% of the cement’s strength will be lost, by one year 40% of the strength is lost and by two years about 50% of its strength is lost.
“Most cement vendors have opened shop on Saturday. We can undoubtedly say that the current stock at most places is more than three-months old. Moreover, the manufacturers have hiked the price. There is a hike of Rs 30 to Rs 50 per packet of cement. This price is applicable to the cement that is already stocked. The strength of this product has definitely deteriorated,” he said. The government has allowed to open cement shops on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
With construction activities in private sector coming to a complete halt, the demand for cement has also come down. In the absence of trucks and labourers, there is hardly any work going on. Even when the construction of major infrastructure projects resumed, the non-availability of cement and steel have been pointed. Government officials associated with construction of Vyttila and Kundanoor flyovers have hinted at the shortage of raw materials.
Meanwhile,industry experts pointed out that it will not be viable to reduce cement price below pre-lockdown levels as running factories at lower utilisation will also impact viability. Even though there has been considerable decline in demand, cement prices at certain pockets in the country have gone up.
April 27, 2020