FIDELITY MHLANGA/MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
Cooking oil manufacturer Surface Wilmar says it has cut back production at its Chitungwiza plant to below 15% of its installed capacity as a result of incessant power cuts.
Ordinarily, the company produces 8 000 tonnes of cooking oil per month, but company executives told Industry deputy minister Raj Modi yesterday during a tour of the company’s plant that output had slumped to 1 500 tonnes.
“There is no production. As you went through the factory, did you see workers there? Did you see the factory running? For the last 16 to 17 days, there has
been no production here,” Surface Wilmar executive chairman Narottan Somani said during the tour.
Asked by journalists if the situation would not affect supply to the market, Somani said: “Are you guaranteeing us that there will be power. You want me to
guarantee supply of the products without power? It does not work like that. Let’s not create illusions.”
Somani added that the company requires 8 megawatts per day to power its Chitungwiza plant, adding that powering the factory with a generator would require 100
litres of diesel per hour and would push the prices of products northwards.
Chief executive Sylvester Mangani said it was difficult to convince foreign investors who enquire from him to come and invest in the country at a time they
were also struggling.
“I don’t know how the country can be open for business when we have power cuts,” bemoaned Mangani.
The company, which during normal times produces enough for export, bemoaned the existence of red tape, saying it required at least 17 export licences.
“When we export, we have to go through a process of getting export permits. Each time we export, we have to get an export permit so it’s just a nuisance cost.
So, we have to recruit a person who has to do that. So, for us, its just an extra person who has to chase export permits, which we think is an unnecessary