WHILE Fiji Industries Limited confirmed yesterday cement production had commenced following a disruption in mill operations last month, major hardware stores and homeowners have yet to receive word on its actual availability.
The disruption to production, caused by a breakdown of the main motor shaft, affected a number of construction companies who had to lay off workers as a result of the short supply of cement.
Nasinu resident Mukesh Kewal had to halt building works on his home because he could not find cement from major distributors.
In the process, seven labourers were forced to take leave — a decision Mr Kewal said was unavoidable.
"It's the Christmas period and it's really not a good time to be laying people off," he said.
"I've checked major distributors but none of them have cement.
"For the past three weeks, construction works were put on hold, and I had to send people home.
"The workers earn about $150-$200 a week and it was unfortunate this had to happen because the festive season is just around the corner.
"I'm not the only one affected. Construction companies and businesses are also affected by the short supply."
Vinod Patel & Company Limited retail sales manager Narend Prasad said they received a number of enquiries from customers, including outer-island residents, about the availability of cement.
He said cement was the main starter for any construction project or building works.
"If there isn't any cement, people won't buy other things they need for the house or building like electrical items or other construction equipment.
"It has affected our business in terms of meeting the needs of our customers who depend on cement for holiday projects," he said.
Meanwhile, Fiji Industries general manager Mosese Natuilagilagi confirmed the problem had been remedied.
"The mill has been running now for the past 36 hours.
"We are still in the process of distributing stock but we should start distributing cement from tomorrow (today). People can expect normal supplies by next week," Mr Natuilagilagi said. He said a shipment of cement was also expected from New Zealand. However, he says unfavourable weather conditions may affect its arrival schedule.