KABUL (Pajhwok): A large number of people in the country are forced to use imported cement because domestic production cannot meet the gap between demand and production.
However, the large scale import of cement does not only reduce its domestic products but it raised concerns that cement exporting countries are likely behind decrease of its domestic production.
Sangar Safai, the cement importing union chief, said that cement was an important product for construction purposes. He said that domestic factories produced up to 800 tonnes of cement daily as compared to 40,000 tonnes daily need locally.
In his chat with Pajhwok Afghan News, he said: “Our cement products are very less so we depend to import the product from neighboring countries.”
He however, suggested establishment of more cement factories would help generate more job opportunities and fulfill local demand.
According to Safai, so far 32 companies, importing cement stones joined the union, with members complained of paying huge taxes to the government.
They daily import touches the figure of 2,000 tractor-trolley having 32,000 tonnes of cement reach to the country and each vehicle has to pay 13,500 afs in taxes to the government.
Hasib Rahimi, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) executive director, said local production could not meet domestic demands.
He said three cement factories of Jabalu Saraj in Parwan, Herat and Ghori were supposed to be activated from 2001 to 2006.
But the dreams could not be materialized due to some problems, he noted. Currently, only Ghori Cement Factory was functional producing about 100 to 150 tonnes of cement daily.
Dr. Ibrahim Jafari, the mining sector analyst and member of the network monitoring natural resources, believes it is impossible to invest or to establish a cement factory without the support and cooperation of government.
“Most of investors are interested to invest in cement factories, but meddling of neighbors blocked the efforts while insecurity is another hurdle for investors,” he remarked.
Afghanistan needs up to six million tonnes of cement per annum. Four million tonnes of the cement are imported from Pakistan which collect one billion dollar for cement exportation annually, he noted.
The companies initially interested to invest in the sector but changed their plan because they understood it did not yield good revenue.
For example: “If we bring our cement from Herat to Kabul, then its transportation, fare and other expenses increase its prices manifold,” he added.
He suggested the problems could be solved with mutual cooperation between the government and the private sector.
Eng. Khozhman Olumi, another mining sector analyst and deputy head of Kabul Municipality’s Urban Services, says Afghanistan is one of the richest countries because the country is home to vast mineral resources.
He added: “Lime stone is one of the most important things being used in production of cement, which can be found in any part of the country.”
He believes there is more difference between domestic and imported cement in terms of its quality, saying: “Afghanistan cements possess high quality as compared to the Pakistani ones.”
Two million tonnes of cements were illegally brought annually into the country which put negative impact on the country’s economy, he argued.
He added: “If we build 50 cement factories, it will not fulfill our demands because we need more cement to build our power dams, roads and buildings.”
A mining sector researcher wishing not to be named said that intervention by neighboring countries halted cements production process inside the country.