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Brick prices increase sharply

Brick prices increase sharply

Producers charge up to 50pc more as construction demand begins to grow

BRICK prices have risen sharply in the past month but are still well below rates achieved at the height of the Kingdom’s construction boom, producers said Tuesday.

Lots of 10,000 bricks presently trade for US $400, according to a Handicraft Produce Bricks official, up from $280 last month, but remain less than the record highs experienced in previous years.

“The price rose to as much as $1,250 for 10,000 pieces from 2007 until the middle of 2008.

“I was very happy to be selling bricks during the construction boom,” managing director Phan Kim Heang said Tuesday.

The firm, known for its crocodile-embossed products, considers that the current resurgence in brick demand is due to a turnaround in the construction sector.

“I see the sector have increased individual home construction and put housing development projects for sale,” he said.

“Brick prices increase depending on movement in the level of construction activity,” he added.

However, Star Diamond Brick Factory director Lay Seng Hoeun predicted brick prices would slide with the oncoming rainy season.

“Heavy rain will slow work on construction sites in the Kingdom, causing prices to fall,” he said.

The Kandal province manufacturer presently sells its lots for between $330 and $360, up from between $180 and $230 on average in April.

He added the company still cannot keep up with demand from returning clients after a 70 percent drop in business since mid-2008.

“When the world crisis hit Cambodia’s construction sector, our business suffered and we laid off workers. Now we cannot get them back because they have gone to work in other places,” he said.

Project manager Touch Samnang said he recognised that brick prices had been rising over the course of the year, but that they were not hindering development plans by his company on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island.

The $200 million housing project, developed by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC), is slated for completion in 2016, with work on the first 168 houses to wrap up by the end of this year.

“It is not enough of a problem to stop us,” he said.

The construction sector has shown increased activity so far this year, according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction department director Lao Tip Seiha, who was speaking on Tuesday.

“I hope that this is a good sign for the year,” he said.

Chip Mong Import, Export, and Construction Company sales project executive Seng Leakhna said last month that steel prices had been increasing since February.

In April, she said, steel was fetching between $710 and $720 per tonne , up 18 percent from $600 in January.

However, prices have since soured, dropping to about $680 a tonne in May, according to Chip Mong human resources officer Sieng Vibal.

Concrete prices have increased by $1 to $70 a cubic metre over last month.

The Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction approved 1,805 construction projects in 2009, compared with 2,156 approvals during 2008.

These figures are for project approvals only and do not track actual spending, which is not reliably available from either industry or government bodies.

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