Increasing domestic demand has led to the shortage of cement supply from the main depots of Phuentsholing.

Penden Cement Authority Limited’s (PCAL) depot manager in Phuentsholing, Ugyen Tshering, said the shortage is seasonal. “The demand usually is more at this time of the year,” he said.

While the demand increases at this time, Ugyen Tshering explained that the company’s production would remain the same, which results in supply not meeting the demand.

PCAL manufactures about 1,200 metric tonnes (MT) of cement every day. “It is the peak season as the construction industry is active,” Ugyen Tshering said.

The depot manager also said that a majority of construction workers from India return home due to the cold in December and January. “The construction resumes after they return in February and March”, he said.

Penden Cement’s depot in Phuentsholing caters to 41 cement agents across the country today that fall under the western region. In 2016, Phuentsholing depot dispatched 78,000MT of cement to these 41 agents.

The target was increased to 86,000MT in 2017. PCAL exceeded and supplied 109,703MT of cement.

Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar have a depot each to cater to different regions.

A cement agent based in Phuentsholing said that there is a huge shortage of cement today. The agent buys cement from both Penden and Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited (DCCL).

“My store doesn’t have cement,” he said. “Both are not supplying agents’ requirement.”

DCCL’s depot manager in Phuentsholing said that there is supply pressure. “We are managing.”

Since the market is more oriented to Penden cement, DCCL depot manager said that they get pressure once PCAL starts falling short in supply.

DCCL depot in Phuentsholing supplies cement to 27 agents in the western region. Until this month this year, Dungsam dispatched 28,000MT of cement. Around the same time in 2017, Dungsam had dispatched 16,500MT.

Dungsam has a capacity to produce more than 3,000MT per day.

Due to this capacity, agents said Dungsam should fill the supply gap so the demand is met.

An agent said that Dungsam’s recent change in hiring transporters after floating a new tender had hit the private truckers.

“The hiring charge has been slashed, which has discouraged private truckers to ferry cement,” the agent said. “This means there is less cement transported for supply across the country.”

Earlier, the agent said truckers were paid Nu 1,230 per MT. It has been revised to Nu 1,050 and demotivated truckers.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing