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The price of cement has soared in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, with retailers across the province charging 480 meticais (6.3 US dollars, at current exchange rate) for a 50 kilo sack, compared with 350 meticais just three months ago.
In July the price rose from 350 to 380 meticais, in August to 450 meticais, and now to 480. Some establishments in Nampula city are even charging 500 meticais.
To make matters worse, some retailers appear to be illegally altering the weight of the sacks. One consumer, Rafique Salimo, told AIM “We are obliged to be very careful when we buy cement. The price is going up with every passing day, and many of these retailers are reducing the number of kilos in a sack. It’s very possible to buy a sack which only contains 40 kilos”.
Another buyer, Sandro Narciso, urged the Nampula Municipal Council or the Provincial Directorate of Industry and Trade to intervene to end the swindle and ensure that a 50 kilo sack really does contain 50 kilos.
One retailer, who declined to be identified, said the only way he could make any profit was by charging 480 meticais a sack.
“We buy from the cement factories at 420 meticais a sack”, he said. “We have to hire transport and pay people to carry the sacks, and all this costs money. When you do the maths, you find that on each sack we only make 10 to 15 meticais”.
The Nampula provincial delegate of the National Economic Activities Inspectorate (INAE), Elio Rareque, recognized the difficulties caused by the rising price of cement. He said that, although INAE is working to avoid speculation, there was no way it could oblige retailers to drop their prices.
Rareque said the prices rise because the wholesale price, charged at the gate of the two cement factories in the port city of Nacala, is also continuing to rise. The factories, he explained, put up their prices on the first day of the month in July, August and September, and justified this with the rise in the cost of imported raw materials, notably clinker. Like other imports, the price has been pushed up by the depreciation of the Mozambican currency, the metical.
The latest statement from one of the Nacala factories states that, as from 1 September, a 50 kilo sack of cement will cost, not 420 meticais as alleged by the anonymous retailer, but 380 or 398 meticais, depending on the grade.
As for selling underweight sacks of cement, Rareque said this was indeed happening, but INAE had cracked down against the practice, closing down temporarily five retailers found to be cheating their customers in this way.
“Our duty is to defend the consumers”, he said, “ensuring that they do not purchase goods that are sold at speculative prices, that are past their expiry date, or the weight of which has been adulterated”.Source: AIM