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05.04.2007 General News

Liberalise the cement market - Engineers

By myjoyonline

The Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG) on Wednesday welcomed government's decision to liberalise the production and marketing of cement to save the country from the shortages of the product.

It said the monopoly of Ghana Cement Manufacturing Company (Ghacem) had created loses of our foreign exchange.

"They can not hide under their inefficiencies and the use of obsolete machines and the frequent breakdown and shortages of clinker to blame the energy crises."

Mr Samuel Obeng National President of ABCECG told a press conference in Accra that there was the need for a third Cement factory operator to be sited in the Northern Region specifically at Buipe where there is abundant deposit of limestone, a source of raw material for cement production.

He called for investment in the pozzolona cement, which BRRI came up with, saying it would save foreign exchange since 95 per cent of the pozzolana cement was made up of local material.

"We are sorry to say after 50 years of independence, we still depend on just one type of cement and one major producer."

Mr. Obeng noted that most tradesmen had taken advantage of the laxity in the system to arrogate to them selves the title "contractors" without registering with the ministry, adding,

"These are the ones who handle most private works."

He said most private developers had also become building project managers over night and because the metropolitan and district assemblies department were under staffed, there is complete disorder in how building works were handled.

They always hide under the constitutional provision of "freedom of Association" and because they knew what they were doing, they have their way by insisting on their non-membership of the Association, he said.

"In as much as we agree that everyone has got the right to join any association of his or her choice, we find it difficult to agree that people or companies can operate as floating or free-lance members of such a vital industry", he said.

Mr Obeng noted that advanced countries were equipping their people to go outside and compete for contracts but we gladly receive them and castigate local firms for their inability to perform.

"How can contractors operate efficiently in this hi-tech era when we are left to operate individually using the same outmoded system" he questioned.

He said the increase in shoddy works could also be attributed to the fact that some of sub standard electrical materials don't have the approved certification from the Ghana Standard board.

Such materials contribute greatly to the numerous fire outbreaks in buildings and other commercial structures.

He suggested that the government took steps to send experts to originating sources to inspect production processes and undertake test on such items before they were allowed into the country.

The association also advocated for the use of steel formwork as a substitute for timber.

"We would state that not only do these foreign contractors deplete our foreign exchange but they do not also contribute to the capacity building of our local contractors by giving out sub-contracts."

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