The shortage of cement and sand is causing a major upset in the construction sector and Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the government is very much aware and concerned about the matter
Contractors and others involved in building have not been able to source adequate sand and cement to undertake several pending infrastructural developments on the island.
“There is a persistent and continuous shortage of cement. The cement when it is transported via sea craft to Antigua it comes in from the crabs’ marina area and of course, because of the depth of the channel by which the boats have to arrive, only a certain size boat could approach and, refill us with cement,” Nicholas said during last week’s Cabinet press briefing.
He said too, that because of the extent to which, the construction sector has been booming, with several large infrastructural, projects, both in the public and the private sectors, it has generated this shortage of cement.
“By that I mean, every time a boat arrives, the cargo is depleted even before it is landed and located. Accordingly, we have seen some disruption in the construction sector. We also have now another problem, which is the shortage of sand” he said.
The government has been acquiring sand from Montserrat, Guyana, and Barbuda Nicholas said, but according to him this is coming to an end
“The government had taken a decision some three years ago to invest, through Namco in a company called Blue Ocean Marine, and Blue Ocean Marine has now been charged, along with its partners to move ahead with mining San Offshore from, from Antigua”.
“The team visited the cabinet yesterday with the principles of Blue Ocean, and we would’ve gone through that conversation about, how purely we could set up that operation. And of course, looked at all of the ecological impacts, there are certain, concessions that they may grant for a short period,” he added.
The government he said has been notified by one major, concrete manufacturer that they intend to open, a batch facility in Barbuda to accommodate and respond to them, expanding economic activity that is taken there.
“So really, it’s important for us now to be in a position to supply the industry with the material that it needs to ensure that there are no artificial stoppages,” he added.
We just do not have enough resources to supply the population. The population is growing rapidly and the government cannot maintain it. We have 365 white sand beaches, why not designated one area for sand mining? Just a suggestion. Is the Barbuda sand mining still under operation? Here goes an increase in our import bill.