Axle load limit restriction declines cement dispatches

Karachi: Cement dispatches registered a decline of one percent in May 2013 to 2.888 million tons compared with 2.918 million tons in May 2012 mainly due to strict adherence of axle load limit implementation by national highway and motorway authorities.

Due to axle load limitation, there is a transport shortage in the country impacting the sale of cement and other commodities. It must be understood that in order to keep the wheels of industry running we would now require twice the number of trucks to transport the same volumes of goods which were earlier transported, but at double the freight cost.

In May 2013 the cement units located in the Northern part of the country despatched 1.714 million tons of cement for domestic market and 0.571 million tons of cement most of it to Afghanistan and other destinations through sea while exports to India were only 0.061 million tons. The south based mills provided the domestic market with 0.389 million tons of cement while its exports were 0.214 million tons. The total cement despatches in May 2013 was 2.888 million tons which was lower than April 2013 despatches of 3.123 million tons.

A spokesman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association said that the axle load rule remained relaxed for decades allowing the trucks to load extra quantities. He said axle load limitation not only impacting the availability of transportation but also increased transportation charges of cement, which is already one of the main components of the cost and further increase under this head, is impacting the sales of cement adversely. He hoped the new government would look into the matter on urgent basis to resolve the issue amicably.

The spokesman said that the capacity utilization of the industry this year is almost touching its highest level at 74.45 percent since 200607 as the domestic despatches has picked up appreciably during the year.

He said exports have declined substantially during past five years from 10.981 million tons in 200809 to 7.709 million tons in first eleven months of this fiscal. He said the expectation of increasing exports to India never materialized due to several non tariff barriers erected by India. He hoped that the new government would take up the issue of NTBs with Indian government on priority to increase exports of the country.

He said in the first 11 months of this fiscal the industry despatched 30.552 million tons against 29.495 million tons cement despatched during corresponding period last fiscal. He said cement exports during the same period were 7.709 million tons this fiscal and 7.837 million tons in the first eleven months of 201112.