Northern Tannery being revived

08 Jan 2016 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 08 JAN (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development is busy reviving the tannery in Ondangwa, which has not been operational for about two years now.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Michael Humavindu told Nampa in an interview here on Thursday the factory is being renovated.
Faulty machines are being fixed and the ministry is also ensuring that the tannery meets set environmental standards before it starts operating again.
The estimated value of the upgrade is between N.dollars 40 million and N.dollars 60 million.
“The ministry has initiated work to review and complement additional infrastructural needs around the tannery before it can reopen. Once the requisite work is completed, the ministry will inform the public at large as to the next step,” he said.
It is not yet certain when the factory will reopen.
Ondangwa Urban Constituency Councillor, Elia Iimali, last month raised concern about the fact that the Northern Tannery has been closed since 2013 in an interview with this news agency. He said the government should consider reviving it.
“We cannot let a good initiative die like that after all the money Government spent on establishing it,” he said, adding that the tannery was expected to generate revenue and create employment.
Iimali said establishing the tannery in northern Namibia was a good idea as there are many cattle farmers in the North and selling their animal hides to the factory gave them an extra form of income.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ondangwa Town Council, Petrina Shitalangaho said there were a number of reasons why the factory closed. These included a lack of operational capital, leakage from obsolete pipes, faulty machinery and a number of environmental issues.
Shitalangaho said its closure had a negative impact on the local economy. The tannery was opened in April 2002 and exported hides and finished leather products such as bags, footwear, clothes and other accessories produced at the factory to other countries.
It was established through a bilateral agreement between the Chinese and Namibian Governments.
The tannery was initiated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (now Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development) in conjunction with local entrepreneurs, with the Offshore Development Company (ODC) as the implementing agency.
The idea was to help the local community sell hides to the factory while business people would invest in the project as part of a development strategy for the local economy.
After operating for five years, it closed down in 2007.
It was reopened in 2010 by an Italian company that presented Cabinet with a turnaround strategy for the facility.
The tannery, which had about 200 employees, was closed again in June 2013, as the revamping of the factory was too costly for the Italian company.
“The revamping process will probably be followed by an invitation for expressions of interest,” Humavindu said.
He added that the ministry will look into the possibility of letting operations resume in a public-private partnership format.