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‘Cement selling at $100 a bag on black market’

Mar, 09 2012

(Trinidad) -- Some hardware owners have started selling cement at black market prices, even as local producer Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) has begun distributing cement imported from Jamaica and Barbados to plug the shortage caused by a strike by workers, a TCL official said yesterday.

TCL general manager Satnarine Bachew said customers could expect to pay a small increase in cement prices, but nowhere near what he said was a 100 per cent increase in prices being asked by some hardware dealers.

Bachew said yesterday: “We are currently off-loading the first shipment and some hardwares are collecting already. We have another shipment coming in tomorrow. Next week from Monday other shipments are coming in. About 23,000 tonnes of cement will be coming into the island.”

Bachew said: “People are black-marketing it already at $100 a bag. I am are not sure exactly where the hardware is going to take this because the normal price of cement retail is between $45 to $50 and hardwares have jumped that to $100. And we have not increased the price.”

Bachew said the only additional cost would be the warehousing cost on the imported cement and handling charges.

“It should just be a small increase,” he said.

He said TCL will inform dealers of the location and time to collect their cement supply in order to prevent any rush.

The Express was told by one company involved in concrete products that prices had increased by as much as $10 a bag.

Checks with several hardwares across the country including Arima, Chaguanas, Tacarigua, Couva, Marabella, Penal, Fyzabad and Debe found all were without a supply of cement.

One hardware dealer at Southern Main Road, Enterprise, said he expected to get a supply next week.
“Our regular price is $60 but when we get, it will go for between $70-$75,” he said.

Another dealer at Fyzabad said the regular price was $50 a bag but this would be increasing to $60 when a supply comes in next Tuesday.

A Couva dealer said yesterday: “Our normal price is $55 but when we get, it will go for about $65.”

By Camille Bethel

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