Boka Investments has poured $1,5 million into the refurbishment of Boka auction floors in preparation for its return to the tobacco industry.
The premises have in the last nine years been rented by Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac), which has been kicked out over rental arrears.
Boka Investments director Rudo Boka yesterday said the refurbishment programme was expected to complete by the end of next month.
The renovation focuses on the building’s drainage system, damaged roof and general maintenance work.
Boka said the company applied for a licence from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to operate the business on its own.
She said TIMB had approved the licence provided the company complies with the board’s standards.
“Our coming on board depends on the inspection of the drainage systems that is going to be conducted by Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board,” said Boka.
“The issue of drainage is our main worry because the TIMB will be coming to inspect the drainage system.
“We intend to connect to the main sewer and repair our toilets before the next tobacco marketing season,” said Boka.
She said the company had raised adequate funds to facilitate its re-entry as a buyer and processor of tobacco in the country.
“We are adequately funded to resume operations once the refurbishment exercise has been completed,” said Boka.
More than 120 million kilogrammes of tobacco were sold in the 2010 selling season, one of the most successful tobacco seasons in recent years.
When NewsDay visited the company, the premises looked desolate with overgrown grass shooting everwhere around and debris strewn all over .
Tobacco waste could be seen coming out of the drainage system on the auction floor.
Boka blames Zitac for the deterioration in infrastructure at the auction floors.She said Zitac had not paid rentals for the last two months, accumulating arrears of up to $80 000, and owed the company $200 000 in unpaid commissions.
The dispute between Boka Investments and Zitac is still at the courts although the High Court in December gave Boka Investments the go-ahead to do refurbishments.