The demand for fresh concrete is increasing in the three prefectures most affected by the 2011 disasters as the port and road reconstruction will be in full swing starting next fiscal year. The coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures will, for the next two years, be experiencing a rapid increase in rehabilitation projects that are already overdue, two years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the region.
From April-August this year, there was already a 36.7% increase in fresh concrete shipments, with 2.95 million cubic meters being transported to the region, as compared to the 8.7% increase for the rest of Japan. One problem with fresh concrete is that it needs to be transported to the construction site where it will be used within 90 minutes of production because it dries out easily. Both the central and prefectural governments have been supportive of the concrete manufacturers as they try to increase their production. In fact, there will be eight new concrete plants that will start their production as the new fiscal year starts in April 2014 in order to meet the demands for the three prefectures.
Another concern for the reconstruction efforts is that there might eventually be a shortage of skilled construction workers to work on the sites as they will be competing with the expected projects related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By itself, there is already a low job-opening-to-seeker ratio for skilled workers like mold makers and steeplejacks, according to a survey by the labor ministry. An increase in material costs will also be a challenge for these projects as major cement makers are insisting that fresh concrete makers accept the price increase because of the supply-demand aspects of it.
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