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Sat 31 Mar 2007 12:00 AM

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Cement shortage affects Bahrain

Calls for a cement plant to be built are being made as sites struggle to obtain material from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

An acute shortage of cement in Bahrain is affecting work on construction sites.

The shortage is believed to have been caused by a breakdown at a plant in Saudi Arabia, coupled with difficult trade relations between the two countries.

This has led to calls being made for a cement plant to be built in Bahrain in order to reduce the country's dependence on imported materials.

"One contractor has reported a shortage of cement due to a breakdown of a plant in Saudi Arabia. We are suffering from this shortage. It hasn't got so critical that we have had to stop work completely on sites, but we have had to cancel some concrete pours," said Michael Lawrence, director of real estate, Abu Dhabi Investment House (ADIH), which is developing The Lagoon Bahrain.

"It has not yet got to the stage where we will be unable to recover from the lost time. I have heard reports that the plant has actually been repaired now."

Mohammed Jawad, manager of cement suppliers Bahrain Quarry, said that much of the problem may stem from problematic trade relations with Saudi Arabia.

"The cement imports are controlled by high-positioned people in Saudi Arabia, they make the rules. There is an agreement that you can only buy very large packages of cement each year. In Bahrain, the small contractors do not have the money to afford these amounts in one-off contracts, so agreements with Saudi Arabia are very difficult."

Jawad, who is now being forced to import cement from Ukraine, added that it is vital that a cement plant is established in Bahrain. "Of course it would be better to manufacture cement in Bahrain. There would be no need then to import. We are in terrible need for cement in Bahrain. The problem is leading to high prices and work is stopping on some projects."

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