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Stop ripping-off Malawians, Minister tells cement traders

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Trade Minister, Sosten Gwengwe on Wednesday warned traders who are ripping off Malawians by overpricing the cost of cement in the country.

Speaking after meeting cement producers and traders in Lilongwe, Gwengwe said the government is shocked to hear that unscrupulous traders are hiking the price of locally produced cement at the time local manufacturers have maintained their prices constant.

He has since said government will revoke the licences of all traders who continue to overprice the building material.

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Gwengwe’s warning comes after local traders have raised the price of cement from an average of K6, 500 per 50 kg bag to as high as K10, 000 per bag.

“This is stealing from Malawians and it must stop. We have enhanced spot checks to find the traders who are ripping off Malawians.

“Once found, we will definitely revoke their licences because these are thieves and not traders,” Gwengwe said.

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He was quick to acknowledge that the price of imported cement has slightly gone up in neighbouring Zambia where about 90 percent of Malawi’s imported cement comes from.

Our preliminary market surveillance reveals that there has been a shortage of cement during the past few days largely due to among other reasons, intermittent supply of forex. The situation is exacerbated by the effects of rising cement prices in Zambia, which has had a negative impact on the Malawi Market through reduced supply of imported cement.

“For instance, for the past two weeks, a bag of cement in Chipata, Zambia, was selling at ZK120 (an equivalent of K5,600), but now it is around an average price of ZK140 (about K6,500),” he said.

Gwengwe observed that local producers and major cement dealers have assured government of increased and constant supply of the product in the next few days to come.

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