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Minister of Industry, Commerce and Investment, Karl Samuda, has said that some 5000 tonnes of cement should arrive in the island from Cuba within the next two weeks, to ease the current shortage.
A team consisting of representatives from the Ministry, the Airports Authority of Jamaica and the Port Authority of Jamaica visited Cuba on Thursday (Sept. 27) to finalize arrangements for the importation of some 40,000 tonnes of cement, which will be arriving into the island on a phased basis.
Addressing journalists at today’s (Oct. 2) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Mr. Samuda informed that the Port Authority of Jamaica is now in the process of finalizing arrangements to transport the cement.
He noted that a regular supply of 5000 tonnes of cement should be arriving from Cuba each month “so we can be assured that we will be receiving from the Government of Cuba, 40,000 tonnes of cement in shipments of 5000 per month”.
Additionally, the Industry Minister said that Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL), the sole manufacturer of the product in Jamaica, has made arrangements to import some 9000 tonnes of cement from Columbia and a further 9000 tonnes from the Dominican Republic.
He told journalists that in the event that CCCL obtains the cement from Columbia and the Dominican Republic, and the government secures additional supplies from private importers, then there should be an excess of the commodity on the local market by year end.
This, Mr. Samuda said would enable the company to look seriously at exporting cement to other countries. “In order to facilitate all of this, we will enable Carib Cement to use their port in Rockfort to import and export cement, with the provision that adequate safeguards, with respect to safety and the integrity of the shipment, is maintained,” he said.
In this regard, Mr. Samuda informed that he has written to the Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, requesting that the shipments of cement leaving and arriving in the island be monitored, to ensure that “not only is Jamaica protected, but that we fulfill our obligations with respect to our regional partners in ensuring that there is no contamination of shipments or that any dangerous equipment or substance leaves our shores”.
The demand for cement between now and year end is estimated at 245,000 tonnes.