Carisa Lee

The Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) company has been given the greenlight from the Government to resume manufacturing and distributing of cement.

A press release sent by TCL on Friday said the company after complying with Government’s restrictions for almost 40 days was granted permission to restart business.

Rock Hard Distributors limited told Guardian Media that they wrote to the Government also requesting permission to reopen after they heard the news.

But this information may be music to some customers’ ears as for two weeks, hardware stores across the country had no cement and some that did hike up their prices.

“I went to every hardware from Princes town to Barrackpore and then back onto the Moruga road, no cement,” one woman posted on Facebook.

“Yesterday. I went to purchase four bags, one hardware had it for $70 while the next $100.00,”another woman said.

Guardian Media got information that suggest that hardware stores were selling cement for up to $200.

Now the Minister of Health during a Virtual Press Conference on April 20th made it clear that masons and carpenters should not work on people’s houses. Construction was deemed non-essential

But some people told Guardian Media that they wanted to purchase cement to for do it yourself projects that needed cement as they were home.

“As I was out of work I was trying to make use of my time,” Nick Singh said.

However, when Singh went to purchase cement he was told it was $115 per bag a price he was unable to pay.

There was then the question of where these hardware stores were obtaining a supply of cement if distributors and manufacturers halted operations since midnight March 29th.

Managing Director of Rock Hard Ryan Ramhit admitted to distributing cement after the lockdown. He said he consulted with his lawyers when he saw TCL operating as usual but was asked to stop on April 15th.

TCL did not confirm if they were distributing cement post lockdown but in their release on Friday said they complied with Government’s restrictions. However, Guardian Media obtained two invoices from hardware stores that seemed to be the sale of cement from TCL on April 9 and 16..

Some hardware owners also confirmed that they received calls from TCL asking if they wanted to purchase cement during the month of April.

Guardian Merdia asked if the company was given an exemption from the Government, however ,they did not answer. The question was sent to the Minister of National Security but he did not respond either.

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said in an emailed response on Thursday that the distribution and manufacturing of cement is not allowed as an essential service.

Her response added that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has heard that some hardwares are selling cement at double or triple the price and the matter is under investigation.