With domestic demand for cement increasing, the country’s two cement manufacturers, Penden Cement Authority Limited’s (PCAL) and Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited (DCCL) are unable to deliver cement to their clients on time.

In Phuentsholing, cement agents have been complaining about the delay  in delivery. Since April 8, Penden Cement Authority Limited’s (PCAL) Phuentsholing regional depot did not have cement in its godown until yesterday.

Cement agents told Kuensel that their clients in the construction sector are enquiring about the supply all day. “It has been difficult to get enough supply in recent times,” an agent said.

The cement agent, who is also an agent for Dungsam cement said short supply of cement has affected both construction and transportation sectors. Truckers that transport cement are also left with no work. The agent shared with Kuensel that he has about Nu 300,000 deposited with PCAL as advance and Nu 216,000 with DCCL.

Another agent for PCAL said it’s difficult to understand why there has been no supply. “We did not have any supply for the last three days,” he said. “Our clients are calling time and again.”

Meanwhile, agents are more worried that their advance money remains locked with the companies when the cement is not delivered. The agents also have an agreement with the manufacturers to lift certain quantity of cement in a month. Should they fail to do so, the security money deposited with the manufacturers is withheld.

A cement agent in Thimphu, requesting anonymity said he has not received any supply from PCAL for the last three days and about three weeks from Dungsam. “I am not sure whether we will get supply anytime soon,” he said.

The agent said he has deposited about Nu 300,000 with PCAL and DCCL. “This capital is not doing any business right now,” he said.

PCAL depot manager for Phuentsholing region, Ugyen Tshering attributed “peak season” as the main reason for not having enough cement supply. “What the agents said is true,” he said.

Ugyen Tshering also said that many, who did not construct houses in 2016 have started constructing creating a demand in the market.

As for the lack of cement since April 8, he explained that there was delay in bringing clinker, the raw material, which is brought from Northeast, India. The railways through which the clinker is transported had problems and it did not reach on time.

“We got the clinker on Sunday,” Ugyen Tshering said, pointing out that PCAL was then able to distribute about 800 metric tonnes (MT) of cement by yesterday and covering the April 8 distribution.

About 15 trucks that were waiting in Phuentsholing depot were also asked to collect cement from the PCAL factory. There would not be further problems, the depot manager said.

From Paro to Thimphu and Trongsa, Phuentsholing region depot has 45 agents. Markets in the eastern and the central part of the country have their agents in Samdrupjongkhar and Gelephu respectively.

Although PCAL also exports cement to India, depot manager Ugyen Tshering said PCAL is supplying more in the domestic market. In March this year, Phuentsholing depot delivered 13,540MT of cement against the target of 8,700MT. The target for this month is 8,650MT.

In the case of the DCCL, marketing officer Tshering Dorji also said that the shortage in the domestic market was due to increased demand in the market.

“The requirement by mega-projects and exports have suddenly increased,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said they are trying to enhance production and that certain time is required to capitalise on the increase in demand. Dungsam depot in Phuentsholing exports cement to Sikkim and other markets in West Bengal.

Cement agents in Phuentsholing said that DCCL did not supply them with enough cement because it exports most to the international market. Tshering Dorji however said they have been supplying to the domestic market.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing