A first of its kind paper recycling plant has commenced operations in Nkoyaphiri Mogoditshane, 10 years after the idea was conceptualised.
Speaking at the official opening of Strides of Success factory last Friday, Choppies Chief Executive Officer, Ramachandran Ottapathu, who is also the Director, said they have spent close to P200 million on acquiring equipment for the plant and were further delayed by compliance processes.
Ottapathu said the first phase of the project has been completed and is expected to create close to 200 jobs, while other phases are expected to create an additional 100 jobs once fully completed and operational.
“The second phase, which we will start immediately, will require P60 million and create another 50 jobs. The third phase is the final one in which we will be spending around USD30 million (P411, 157, 611.51) that will be providing all the paper requirements in the country and for export,” he said.
Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, said the project came at a time when the Africa Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) was taking off and citizens should take advantage of the economic benefits that the latter brings.
He said the project should export its products to the SADC region and beyond, and urged citizens to embark on similar projects to benefit from AFTA.
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President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi expressed disappointment that government red tape delayed the projects by close to a decade.
“It should not take 10 years to open a factory, this is unacceptable. I’m also told it took four and half years of waiting for an environmental impact assessment (EIA). But we are beyond the era of troublesome EIAs, they are behind us, and they will never come back,” the President said.
President Masisi said it should take a few months for investors to complete regulatory processes to set up factories in the country and basic services such as land, water, and electricity should not be a source of headache.
The President said majority of companies in the recycling industry only package waste material and export to neighbouring countries and therefore create jobs abroad. With unemployment currently standing at 27 percent, the president said the plant will also create indirect jobs for Batswana who will collect waste for a living.
“I’m informed these companies also collect recyclable waste material at landfills, because at the moment there are no waste proclamation centres,” said the President.
He said that management is faced with challenges and this has resulted in people dumping waste by the roadside and in open spaces, causing environmental degradation.
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President Masisi urged employers to pay better salaries for their employees, saying the minimum wage, which is currently under review, does not prohibit them from paying good salaries if they can afford it.