Crucial scarcity of constructing and building supplies in SA

Crucial shortages of constructing and building supplies, together with cement, metal, bricks and timber, are suffocating the sector’s restoration from the Covid-19 lockdown and diminishing its affect on the restoration of the financial system.

David Metelerkamp, senior economist at building market intelligence agency Business Perception, stated the shortages, in the event that they proceed for an prolonged time frame, have the potential to derail authorities’s deliberate large infrastructure funding plan to stimulate the financial system put up the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Metelerkamp stated the shortages are most likely demand-driven “to a level” as a result of the development business will probably be one of many higher performing sectors within the financial system this yr as all the opposite sectors are in deep recession.

“However the building business is among the solely sectors that the federal government can play that counter-cyclical position in, as a result of greater than half of the sector is funded by authorities cash.

“The impact [of the shortages] then is actually unfavourable as a result of it’s going to restrict the power of presidency to play that counter-cyclical position if [the shortages] are going to utterly decelerate initiatives,” he stated.


Regardless of their incapacity to fulfill the present demand, the metal business advantages from tariff safety on imports, whereas the cement business has submitted an software to the Worldwide Commerce Administration Fee for cover towards imported cement.

Moneyweb is in possession of a duplicate of the letter by a serious wholesaler of constructing and building supplies that highlights the shortages in varied merchandise.

The managing director of the corporate (neither need to be named), advises shoppers that it’s battling to supply enough shares of metal merchandise; bricks, notably inventory bricks; cement and cement-related merchandise together with lintels; timber, with sure sizes tough to acquire; and lots of imported merchandise, together with plumbing, energy instruments and electrical merchandise.

The corporate stated ArcelorMittal South Africa can’t provide the South African demand and metal is now being imported, however it takes three to 4 months to reach and will probably be far more costly.

Cement capability

It added that there are extreme cement capability issues all through the nation, whereas the lead time at current for the provision of bricks is between two and 4 weeks.

The cement scarcity has been exacerbated by transport issues attributable to industrial motion.

ArcelorMittal SA failed to reply to plenty of questions emailed to the corporate in regards to the metal scarcity.

Nevertheless, Heunis Metal MD Anton Heunis stated the metal scarcity has been attributable to ArcelorMittal failing to start out up its second blast furnace after the easing of lockdown restrictions.

“They thought they had been going to get via the demand for the native market with just one blast furnace, which didn’t work,” he stated.

Heunis stated it alerted ArcelorMittal to the scarcity in June, however ArcelorMittal determined to “stick with their weapons” and in addition did not import sizzling rolled coil and coat it domestically.

“It’s principally an absence of correct administration. They only didn’t handle the factor correctly and now there’s a backlog and they’re attempting to catch up.”


Heunis stated his and different corporations needed to begin importing metal from China and different nations, including that ArcelorMittal will probably be beginning up its second blast furnace in December “which is just too late”.

“Everyone has positioned their orders on the worldwide market and so they [ArcelorMittal] haven’t solely misplaced that chance however created extra opposition for themselves.

“The worst factor is that the federal government provides them safety. So you aren’t doing all of your job correctly…and you’re nonetheless having fun with safety from the federal government,” he stated.

Heunis questioned what motivates ArcelorMittal to enhance the corporate and its administration “when they’ve the safety of the federal government even when [they] are ineffective”.

The Concrete Institute (TCI) MD Bryan Perrie stated there are a selection of compounding elements which are resulting in cement shortages, together with transport issues with Transnet Freight Rail and industrial motion affecting trucking corporations, plus issues with the provision of fly ash from Eskom.

Demand not anticipated

PPC South Africa MD Njombo Lekula stated no person anticipated the present demand for cement when the lockdown was carried out and no person is aware of if the present demand will probably be sustained into the longer term.

Lekula stated PPC continued to produce its shoppers and delayed the upkeep shutdown of its crops the place doable to accommodate the rising demand, even whereas working at 50% capability at Stage four of the lockdown.

“The demand picked up largely within the retail sector the place many of the prolonged cement merchandise are bought and indications are that that is primarily pushed by dwelling enchancment initiatives,” he stated.

Lekula careworn the problems round provide are associated to elements outdoors the management of the cement business and are, in PPC’s view, non permanent.

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He added that this has not modified PPC’s views on the assist required for a sustainable native clinker and cement manufacturing base.

“By the TCI we repeatedly interact the related authorities establishments on facets that will have an effect on the business and its capability to assist the infrastructure initiatives.

“As an illustration, we’re at the moment participating the federal government on the problems of TFR [Transnet Freight Rail], which has continued deteriorating put up the lockdown and is critically impacting the motion of the supplies,” he stated.

Lekula added that PPC is now benefitting from its nationwide footprint and the truth that it had idle capability. However industrial motion impacting on trucking corporations has had an impact not solely on the outbound motion of bulk cement but additionally on the inbound motion of fly ash from Eskom to PPC manufacturing websites.

However Lekula stated they may partially mitigate this affect by repositioning bulk cement transport from different components of the nation.

‘Extraordinary occasions’

“We have to acknowledge that we’re in extraordinary occasions that requires understanding and endurance.

“In our view, the native business can sufficiently provide the market. PPC estimates SA cement capability at 20MT [megatonne], lively capability at 15MT, whereas cement demand is beneath 13.5MT.

“Following a pessimistic view in regards to the post-lockdown financial system, we had been pleasantly stunned by an surprising improve in demand.

“Whereas our plans had been knowledgeable by the prevailing lack of supporting initiatives within the pipeline, now we have managed to right away reset to reposition ourselves and readjusted the plans at a value. The premature transport strike has an affect and … must be addressed,” he stated.


A director of a Gauteng-based brick producer, who didn’t need to be named, attributed the scarcity of bricks to the Covid-19 lockdown and the truth that brick producers had been initially capable of promote however not produce bricks as the assorted ranges of the lockdown rules had been lifted.

This has resulted within the sale of their buffer inventory of bricks and they’re now experiencing issue in producing enough bricks to fulfill the demand, he stated.

Clay Brick Affiliation of SA government director Mariana Lamont confirmed that there’s at the moment a scarcity of bricks after manufacturing stopped for 3 months in the course of the lockdown.

Lamont stated when brick producers may begin up once more from July, none of them anticipated that “building would leap away at a really constructive degree”, notably because the pre-lockdown atmosphere was not constructive and provide exceeded demand.

“Then there was the lockdown and a sudden increase.

There’s a superb improve [in demand] and it’s throughout the nation … and never Gauteng-specific,” she stated.

Learn: Construction activity slumps to record low – Afrimat

Lamont stated the provision stress on brick producers applies equally to small and enormous producers, as a result of none of them had been manufacturing in the course of the lockdown and manufacturing bricks is a four- to six-month course of.

“However there’s a superb really feel about 2021,” she stated. “Order books are full for January and February.”