The cement war in Yemen summons the Egyptians

English - الثلاثاء 04 أكتوبر 2022 الساعة 04:58 م
Sana'a, NewsYemen, private:

 The competition between local investors in the cement industry and production, and the government-controlled cement factories controlled by the Houthis, has gone into an undeclared war, far beyond the market, price, and quality, reaching theft and attracting human cadres among these factories, including engineers and operating experts.

There are 7 cement manufacturing and production plants in Yemen, 3 of which belong to the government, and 4 to the private sector, all of which are not operating at their full production capacities, as a result of a set of challenges facing this industry, two of them have stopped production, in addition to small local factories that grind and pack imported cement.

One of the directors of cement factories affiliated with the private sector told NewsYemen that the cement factories of the private sector were attracted to cadres and great temptations for experts and engineers, by the government cement factories in the governorates of Amran and Bajel in Hodeidah.

He added, the attractive process of attracting operational and engineering cadres, which began two years ago, caused a crisis and panic for private sector factories, which resorted to summoning Egyptian experts and engineers, who are gradually replacing local expertise.

Earlier this week, the Houthis inaugurated the Bajel Cement Factory in Al-Hodeidah Governorate, with a production capacity of 750,000 tons per year. The Amran Cement Factory returned to production at the end of 2018, while the Al-Barah plant in Taiz Governorate is still closed due to the transfer of parts of its equipment to the Amran and Bajel factories.

A source in a private sector cement factory confirms that local cement companies are concerned about the Houthis’ monopoly of the cement market in their areas of control, preventing the entry of cement produced in the southern governorates or imposing additional fees, and doubling royalties.

He explained that customs are currently imposed on locally manufactured and produced cement in Lahij and Abyan, upon entering the northern governorates, with a fee of 200 riyals of customs on each bag of cement. 

Cement companies are also forced to carry out maintenance work for government facilities and repair some roads in the cities.

The private sector owns 4 factories: National Cement, affiliated to Hayel Saeed Anam Group, in Al-Musaimeer area in Lahij governorate, Al-Arabiya Cement Factory in Hadhramaut governorate, Al-Wahda Cement Factory in Abyan governorate, and there is a fourth factory affiliated with the private sector “Bates” in Abyan governorate that is still stumbling until now.

The prices of locally manufactured cement witnessed a cumulative record increase during the past eight years, from 1,300 riyals, the price of cement per 50 kg bag in 2014, to 5,200 riyals in 2022, an increase of 390 percent.

One of the cement sales agents confirms to NewsYemen that local cement companies sell them cement in Saudi riyals, 18 riyals per bag, and when the exchange rate of the Saudi riyal decreases, the price of the bag is raised to 23 Saudi riyals, and the sale is carried out according to the exchange rate against the Yemeni riyal.

But one of the directors of cement factories affiliated with the private sector confirms that the problem of transportation and its high costs, and the closure of main roads for years, is the main reason for the high price of foreign currencies against the local currency, and the conditions of war, behind the failure of the factory to operate at its full production capacity.

He added, there are great challenges that still stand a stumbling block to this industry, most notably the weak infrastructure and the absence of security and stability, in addition to the challenges that Yemen is witnessing due to the war, which has caused the suspension of most investment activities and various construction works.