Why sand prices have shot up

Apr 03, 2018

Experts say the rising fuel prices have contributed to the increase in sand prices

PIC: Major supply areas of sand are running out, so dealers have hiked prices due to the long distances they travel to get it. (File photo)


The shortage of sand has forced prices up and increased the risk of buying bad sand. Abdu-Wahab Nyanzi, an architect, says good sand is supposed to be free of impurities like soil, clay and humus.

One can tell that the sand is good by picking a handful of it and rubbing it through fingers to feel its texture.

"Good sand should not stick together like clay. Ordinarily, if the sand is dry, it should not lump up when you hold it in a fist and release it," he says.

Nyanzi advises site developers to engage experts in building materials to ascertain their quality before effecting the transaction. Sand plays an important role in strengthening a structure, he adds.

Why prices are increasing

Ali Muwanga, a truck driver in Kawaala, says the rising fuel prices have contributed to the increase in sand prices that they are expected to go up more. However, one can easily cut construction costs of sand by nearly a third if they collect it from to the quarries themselves.

"The price of building sand in Kampala has gone up because the major supply areas are running out. Sand dealers have hiked prices due to the long distances they travel to get it, the rains and even the foreigners who have entered the business and are getting it from lakes. Others are selling low quality sand mixed with clay," Muwanga says.

Isam Matovu, a truck driver, who parks in Kyebando, says getting sand from the quarry to the dumping site is more complicated because many traffic Police officers ask for bribes.

"You cannot believe how much the Police ask for. They may demand sh20,000 or sh50,000 or sh100,000, if they accuse you of speeding, having bad tyres or over loading," he says.

How sand gets to trucks

According to Isaac Lule, a sand miner in Lwemwede village in Wakiso, when vehicles reach quarries, the miners are the ones who dig the sand, sieve it and pile it up into knolls.

"The price of a truck of floor sand (with small stones), is now at sh70,000 and sh90,000 up from sh60,000 to sh70,000. For porters, to fill the truck, the owner has to pay sh20,000 to sh25,000, up from sh10,000 to sh15,000.

A full forward truck goes for sh30,000 to 35,000 from sh20,000 to sh25,000, plus sh5,000 to sh10,000 for the porters. An Isuzu Elf of sand costs sh10,000-15,000, plus sh5,000 for the porters," he explains.


According to Matovu, a driver, a truck of building sand goes for between sh550,000 and sh750,000, up from sh500,000 and sh550,000 around the city areas.  Plastering costs between sh400,000 and sh550,000, up from sh350,000 to sh450,000.

However, the price varies according to the distance and the quality. Matovu says the shortage of mining areas has forced the prices of sand to go up because drivers and dealers have started getting sand from far off areas, such as islands.

Moreover, unscrupulous dealers are taking advantage of the increased demand for the sand.

Types of sand

According to Nyanzi, sand should be classified as coarse and fine for the grey one. He says brown sand is usually mixed with silt (mukoka).


Robert Kamya has been in the sand business for five years. He ays most quarries do not seem to have particular owners, save for the quarries found on privately-owned land, where miners pay sh15,000 and 20,000 per truck to the landlords.

Bamu Kisekka, who deals in sand, says most of the city sand mines are overdrawn, forcing the dealers into distant areas such as Luwero, Kapeeka, areas around lake Victoria, while others are going as far as Masaka.

He says site developers who are opting for cheap sand are compromising the quality of their buildings.

Where sand comes from

Mukono-Katosi road has more tipper trucks than any other vehicles, because it is where most sand mining takes place.

Traders in Gayaza, Ntinda, Kyebando, Matugga Kiwatule, Kyetume, Kireka and Kasangati get sand from Katosi. Other areas are Lwemwede in Wakiso, Buleemezi in Luwero, Lukaya and Lwera near Masaka, Bugerere in Kayunga and Malaba.

Initially, sand was mined at Entebbe, Nkumba, Heritage, Garuga and Busaabala.

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