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An increase in the availability of cement from today should provide some relief in the construction sector, which has for months suffered from a shortage of the commodity.

For almost a year, the ongoing shortage of cement brought a number of construction projects to a standstill forcing the price of cement to consumers to shoot up from $13.50 to a record $17.00 per sack.{{more}}

But with a “large” shipment due to arrive today Friday, August 25, any uncertainty over the availability of cement has come to an end.

Divisional Manager at Coreas and Hazels, Joel Providence, confirmed to Searchlight Business on Wednesday that suppliers are now in a position to meet the demand here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Coreas and Hazels, one of this country’s largest suppliers of cement has resumed normal operations with its suppliers TCL in Barbados, Arawak Plant in Barbados and ARGOS out of Columbia.

According to Providence, the demand on the local market had grown mainly due to a boom in the construction sector across the region.

He said in the case of Columbia, suppliers shifted exports to the US where there was a high demand, leaving this country short of its regular supply.

“The shortage in the OECS had also increased due to problems at the cement plant in Trinidad. Even after they increased their production from 700,000 tons to 1.2 million they were still not able to meet the export demand,” Providence explained.

According to the business executive, increases in energy costs worldwide also led to the increased cost in production and freight.

The freight from Trinidad to St. Vincent, he said, had increased by 60 per cent after the rise in oil prices.

“During the shortage what normally would have been sold in two weeks was being sold in two days,” Providence said.

Though the lines have been levelled in the demand and supply curve where cement is concerned, consumers should not expect a sudden reduction prices. High freight and production costs will keep cement prices high.

But Providence is assuring consumers that despite the prices remaining at over $17 per sack, St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to maintain the lowest construction cost in the Eastern Caribbean. According to him, what persons can now expect is a stabilization in the price of cement on the local market.

Before the shortage, St. Vincent and the Grenadines imported between 56,000 to 60,000 tons of cement per year.