THE demand for locally produced cement has overwhelmed hardware shops as supplies continue to wane.
According to several hardware shops in the Western Division, customers have become increasingly frustrated at the absence of 50kg cement bags.
Vinod Patel Lautoka branch manager, Nimlesh Chand said their latest shipment, about seven tonnes, quickly disappeared in the rush for the product.
"Those who pre-ordered the 50kg bag had to be turned away because it finished so quickly," Mr Chand said.
"Every day we have a lot of customers coming and asking for cement and some of them get upset because we tell them there's no more left."
Mr Chand said buying locally produced cement was cheaper compared to their in-stock imported cement.
"We mainly sell the locally produced ones because it is much cheaper for our customers. A 50kg bag from our local supplier will cost our customers about $15 whereas the imported one will cost them $26," he said.
Also experiencing a high demand for the product was Kasabias Limited.
Lautoka warehouse manager Yogesh said the company ordered 24 tonnes of cement for its Lautoka and Nadi branches earlier this week.
"We took 12 tonnes and the other 12 were delivered to Nadi and by today (Wednesday), most of that stock was sold," said Mr Yogesh.
He added that many customers were making pre-order arrangements before the next supply arrived.
The shortage has also forced a local company to lay-off some of its staff members.
P Chand Besser Blocks director John Chand said he had to lay-off five of his workers and their re-engagement depended on the resumption of supply.