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Cost of construction material up on China supply disruption

A construction site
A construction site. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The prices of construction materials have gone up by five to 10 percent as suppliers report shortage of supplies from China over the coronavirus embargo.

The shortage has been blamed on Kenya's over-reliance on Chinese building and construction materials such as electrical equipment as well as steel.

Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) president Mugure Njendu said this could get worse as experts predict a 15 percent drop in volume of production in China during the March and April.

"As a result, a sharp decline in the production of construction materials is expected as well an increase in related prices," Ms Njendu said.

Gypsum board, fiberglass panels, acoustical ceiling tile, metal studs and paint are some of the products whose prices have soar2ed.

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To shield the construction sector, Ms Njendu said the government should instead strengthen local manufacturing to bridge the supply gap. "The government and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers should work to maintain price control as possible," she added.

This comes as the industry for the last two-years has been grappling with hitches in issuance of permits that has affected many property developers. AAK's 2019 statistics show the value of approved buildings in Nairobi dropped from Sh210 billion in 2018 to Sh141.27 billion.

"It adds an extra 15 per cent cost to the development budget that is ultimately passed on to buyers (citizens)," Housing Permanent Secretary Charles Hinga said last year. Ms Njendu urged the government to review force majeure (unavoidable disruption) clause to cushion constructors.

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