The Managing Director of Liberia Cement Corporation (CEMENCO), William Ph. Gaignard, has disclosed that his commitment to Liberia is to see the country covered entirely by CEMENCO in the distribution of the commodity so that every Liberian will afford the same cost.
CEMENCO is the largest distributor of Cement in the country in the country, and as eager as Liberians are to build their homes, the commodity has become a fast-moving product on the market.
As demand for the commodity is at a rising pace; there are, however, various factors impeding the movement of the commodity across the country and chief among the factors is the deplorable road condition. With the slow and limited movement of cement in the country, the price is not the same all over.
Southeastern Liberia, for instance, is hardly accessible during the rainy season. For that, cement, like other commodities has a skyrocketing price. Sales Manager Vivian Joe-Saamoi says cement in Barclayville, Grand Kru County is sold for $16.00 while in Harper, Maryland County it is $12.00. In Monrovia from where it is packaged and distributed, cement is $6.70, and in Ganta, Nimba County, which is connected to Monrovia via paved road it is sold for $8.00.
Mr. Gaignard, in an interview with journalists following a meeting with European Union Ambassador, Laurent Delahousse and other EU representatives on April 13, 2021, said, “Our mission is to see in the next five years cement reaching all parts of the country at an affordable price. I don’t accept the price of cement to be $18.00, no, I don’t accept that in any part of Liberia.”
In addition to exerting efforts to reach every part of Liberia with the commodity, the CEMENCO Managing Director also assured that, as an investor operating in the country, the company’s goal is to implement the kind of development that will leave a positive impact on the country.
Addressing the transportation constraints the company faces to get the commodity to other parts of the country; Mr. Gaignard said it is a problem for which everyone, including the government, citizens, together with CEMENCO, have to find solutions. He also stressed the need for the government to provide protection for the company, noting that they are investing in Liberia while others are importing, but importers seem to be treated better than they are.
“We are producing cement in the country, but we are not protected. Others are importing but not investing and they are protected than we are,” Gaignard said.
EU Head of Delegation, Laurent Delahousse, also told journalists that they were visiting CEMENCO to know what they are doing in Liberia because the company is a European Union-based company investing in Liberia.
“The private sector is the heart of development for the country with the civil society, donors, government and everyone else,” Ambassador Delahousse said. “The private sector is the heart of development for the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity.”
He said the visit to the company’s premises was also intended to express how concerned they are because the German company which has a direct link with the EU is playing a full part of the development of Liberia.
“I understand CEMENCO has 4,000 families living on CEMENCO’s employment. CEMENCO is an investment company that does not import cement for supply to Liberians but produces cement in Liberia. When you import, you create [few] jobs, but when you produce, you create many, many jobs. In addition, it is giving revenues to the government through taxes. Therefore, CEMENCO must be heard and protected, and it is better to have an economy relying on investment than trade,” he said.
He also indicated that their visit was to tour the facility to assess the environmental condition to ensure that the company does not pollute the environment and make noise and dust that will embarrass the surrounding communities.
A few years ago, CEMENCO came in dispute with the surrounding communities on allegations of noise and environmental pollutions. According to CEMENCO authorities, they have invested millions of dollars to purchase equipment to mitigate pollutions complained about.
Some of what they have invested in include Roller Press, Palletizer, and Eco Hopper.
The company has also negotiated with a Chinese vessel to transport cement from Monrovia to Sinoe and Maryland Ports respectively; which according to the sales department will enable those hard-to-reach counties to have access to the commodity at a lower price.