Shipping & Logistics

Cement makers eye higher output with renewed clinker imports

Local firms are prepared to start producing cement rather than importing the finished product. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Local firms are prepared to start producing cement rather than importing the finished product. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Mombasa port has begun to receive industrial inputs almost one month after the August 8 polls. Data by Kenya Ports Authority (see graph on page 17) shows that clinker was the main item ordered in the week to September 20.

Clinker is used in the manufacture of cement. Between the General Election date and last week, the port mainly received ready-for-consumption items — ranging from cereals to cement.

In the week to September 13, for instance, maize was the top item cleared at the port with 59,499 metric tonnes handled during the week.

It was followed by cement, wheat and sugar in that order. The increased shipping of food items into the country has helped to tame shortage and price rallies which had hit the country in the run up to August General Election.

Last week, however, 52,040 metric tonnes of clinker was the top commodity cleared at the port indicating that local firms were prepared to start producing cement rather than import the finished product.

Steel and coal (45,502 and 41,143 metric tonnes respectively) also feature prominently among last week’s imports.

Since it takes about two months to order and receive foreign goods, the changing import mix implies that manufacturers had planned to resume production at least one month after the August 8 polls.

The ruling by the Supreme Court which ordered fresh presidential polls in 60 days has since lengthened the electoral process. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has since picked October 26 as the date for the repeat polls.

That means manufacturers will most likely turn back to the wait-and-see mode with a pile of inputs taking up more space at Mombasa port.

On Tuesday, the Opposition National Super Alliance began its demonstrations which seek to force top IEBC managers out of office. The Opposition accuses 11 IEBC officers of bungling the August 8 polls.

The ensuing tension is set to extend the anxiety that has gripped the manufacturing sector since the country entered the campaign period more than three months ago.