We’re having yet another “crisis” in Bahrain. This time, it comes in cementy flavour!
FOREIGN racketeers are being blamed for a cement crisis which has crippled Bahrainâ€™s construction industry.The suspension of supplies from Saudi is costing Bahrainâ€™s contractors more than BD4 million a day, says sources. [GDN 12.06.08]
Let me first confess that I don’t know much about the construction industry, nor do I know a lot about the building material manufacturing and supply. My company did make a corporate video for one of the largest manufacturers of bricks, pre-cast slabs etc a few months ago, and through that process I did gain a little bit of knowledge, but hardly enough to pontificate on the processes and economies involved in this vital industry.
What does surprise me in this “new new” crisis are several factors:
- Why isn’t Bahrain self-sufficient in producing its own primary building material
- Why do Bahraini traders and factories complain about not getting enough primary supplies from Saudi when they know that the Saudi government heavily subsidises that industry so that they would use their products for the local market?
- Why does the GCC Secretariat even allow such disparate subsidies from any of its members?
- If our governments have to resort to protectionist policies like we are seeing Saudi imposing – fairly or unfairly – then what hope is there for GCC-wide economic integration?
- and does this mean that the so called unified Gulf currency is (or should be) dead?
Without access to these basic material, how can the country sustain its development?
We have seen the issue of the Muharraq Municipality specifically derailing plans for the creation of a cement factory in Hidd – citing environmental concern – even though an environmental expert has given assurances that it does not pose any threat to the environment (arabic) through a public hearing which none of the municipal officers bothered to attend. Sure, cement factories because of their inherent manufacturing processes contribute a lot to CO2 gasses, accounting fully up to 8% of the global emissions, but I’m not convinced that the Municipal council has taken that metric into consideration, my guess it is more localised and I would love to know their main objection.
Even without it (and others) being in the Hidd industrial zone, why can’t the government allow them to congregate in Hafeera? An area already full of crushers and pre-cast plants? Or maybe do what they’re trying to do now and buy and manage rice plantations in Thailand and the Philippines, outsource!
Whatever it is, let them solve the problem themselves without depending on Saudi or the rest of the GCC. A country that does not have resources of its own but that of unbound enthusiasm and creativity of its people can indeed conquer the world! Heck, the idea of the plantations is a brilliant one and should be extended, these could be the first steps in the creation of the Bahraini Empire which will eventually rule the world!