Going to waste | The Herald

via Going to waste . . . | The Herald December 12, 2013 by Fortious Nhambura

The place is deserted. There is no movement in the complex save for a security guard manning the entrance. There is no smoke from the chimneys, no noise from the machines or workmen and women traversing the yard of the Transload Biodiesel Plant complex in Mt Hampden.

The disused bus rank at Machipisa Shopping Centre, Highfield.

The disused bus rank at Machipisa Shopping Centre, Highfield.

After sometime a lone figure appears from one of the guardrooms along the perimeter fence visibly in no hurry to attend to us.

“Where are you from? The place has been closed for nearly a year now. There is no production here and people are not allowed here.

“Please do not take pictures. This is Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe property and you cannot take photographs,” said the guard manning the gates of the multimillion0-dollar complex that was constructed at the height of illegal sanctions-induced fuel shortages in 2007.

The place is now a pale shadow of the complex that was commissioned by President Mugabe a few years ago. It has clearly turned into a white elephant.

Located 15 kilometres northwest of Harare, the imposing plant has become a giant ghost in the area.

It is a clear sign of what can happen to an investment if there is lack of fore-planning and when politics override the will for development.

The plant is one of many multimillion-dollar structures that were erected but have been abandoned and turned to white elephants over the years.

Among other massive investment projects that have turned into white elephants in Harare and Chitungwiza are the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex, the Magamba Hockey Stadium (all constructed when Zimbabwe hosted the 1995 All-Africa Games), and the Harare Centenary Bridge in the CBD and Machipisa bus terminus and a footbridge that were constructed as part of Harare centenary celebrations during the City of Harare’s Executive Mayor Solomon Tavengwa era.

The Transload Biodiesel plant, a joint venture between the RBZ and South Korean firm Yuan Woo Investments, was officially commissioned by President Mugabe on November 16, 2007.

It is one of the largest biodiesel plants in the world with a capacity to produce 100 million litres of biodiesel annually when operating at peak but that has never been realised.

“It is disheartening to see such a massive investment going to waste. The project was supposed to shine as it came as one of the sanctions-busting measures by our Government.

“It was a welcome development for a country that was facing shortage of fuel due caused by the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.

“Government should not let such projects rot but come up with a way of resuscitating them for the good of the country,” said Mr Fredrick Manyangarerwa, a social and economic analyst.

Unfortunately the multimillion dollar investment has not pumped any oil, not to 50 percent capacity, not 25 percent or even 10 percent of the installed capacity.

Reason: the country failed to provide enough feedstock from cotton seed, soya beans, jatropha and sunflower seed.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union vice president Mr Berean Mukwende said there was need for policy makers to prioritise and focus energies and resources on ensuring that such infrastructure like the Mt Hampden biodiesel plant start production.

“There is so much value that is locked in these infrastructures that should be used for the benefit of the people. Government should not just look at the immediate financial benefits but other factors like social and political impact of focusing on importing and not production.

“If the plant is resuscitated it will mean jobs for the local people and markets for farmers. That is what we should consider before making decisions,” he said.

Said a Harare-based political analyst who declined to be named: “That is a reflection of the decline we have witnessed in agriculture. The sector was supposed to give enough stock for pressing but it has not been pumping and that is reflected by the silence at the biodiesel plant.

“It shows that politics should never be used to stall development. The MDC fought against these projects and look what we have now, a multimillion dollar investment that is not in use.”

With the plant operating at capacity the country was supposed to serve between US$50 million and US$70 million.

Despite efforts by the national biodiesel feedstock production taskforce to promote the growing of jatropha and other oil seeds, lack of funding saw many projects that had been instituted to grow feedstock for the plant folding.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 13
  • comment-avatar
    Douglas 8 years ago

    it is for the first time to come across a story from the herald about the zanupf failure on a project.if the government can pay competetive prices for the sunflower and soya then the factory might be pumping fuel right now.

  • comment-avatar
    Johann 8 years ago

    Fortious Nhambura
    How could this foreign investor South Korean firm Yuan Woo Investments have done business with the RBZ if there were illegal sanctions? If you wanted feed stock for your plant how come your so called intelligent gov’t replaced the commercial farmers with A2 war vet settlers with no clue about large scale crop production.

    • comment-avatar
      ZimJim 8 years ago

      Mmmm… I’ve got it!
      The gov’t are a bunch of idiots!
      Wake-up Zimbabwe!

  • comment-avatar
    ZimJim 8 years ago

    Mmmm… I’ve got it!
    The gov’t are a bunch of idiots!
    Wake-up Zimbabwe!

  • comment-avatar
    Msizeni Silwelani 8 years ago

    How can a serious investor throw its money into a business that involves farming? Isn’t that we have said that the very gvt that runs RBZ has destroyed commercial farming?

    Bravo reporter for showing the world how arrogant, overzealous our guys are when it comes to mis-investment. Simple put they lack forcast and would not miss an opportunity to officiate at any event for publicity stunt.

  • comment-avatar
    masvukupete 8 years ago

    How come, we are still under sanctions yet we have enough fuel? Fuel shortages started in 1998 before any form of sanction had been imposed (2002). Since fuel is now available, does it then mean the sanctions have been removed. The fuel shortages were there because of mismanagement of the economy. The economic mismanagement started on 18 April 1980. The impact only started being apparent around 1992-1993. Before then we still had donors (Western nations) that used to cover up with balance of payment support. Once the donations started drying up, the problems started being apparent.

  • comment-avatar
    Antonio Delgado 8 years ago

    They lack foresight badly but then the officials couldn’t organise a pissup in a brewery anyway….

  • comment-avatar
    gorongoza 8 years ago

    I guess its bacause of sanctions that all these places have become white elephants including the hockey stadium and the taxi rank at Machipisa. Lets just blame all on sanctions. Zanu is too perfect to be blamed for anything! They are angels in white robes!

  • comment-avatar
    Harper 8 years ago

    if a farmer supplied the feedstock would he ever get paid.

  • comment-avatar
    Murondatsimba 8 years ago

    The Plant was commissioned on 16 November 2007 and the MDC only entered govt in Feb 2009 and i wonder how they fought against this project??

    • comment-avatar

      If they fought against the project, which I doubt, then they were right. Look at it now it should have never happened. As usual trying to blame someone else with a cleverly worded statement that couldn’t fool a donkey.

  • comment-avatar
    sunshine 8 years ago

    What has happened to Bossmyass

  • comment-avatar
    Michael 8 years ago

    Fortious Nhambura you are an idiot, badly scribed article and lacking in factual content.

    The only reason why there is no oil seed for the plant is because peasant A1 farmer cannot be productive. The reason is that they (A1 farmer) expect someone else to finance their farming input but want to retain all income.

    In the 90’s the commercial farmers wanted to invest in a corn starch factory (a hugely profitable global industry) because Mugabe’s political rhetoric claimed that the peasant farmers were growing 70% of the maize to feed the nation. We all know that was a lie.

    Now that the commercial farming industry has collapsed and the A1 farmers are unable to feed themselves let alone a starving nation we are left with these white elephant projects. Give the farms back to the commercial farmer (many of whom have the finances to invest in production), put the diamond fields under international mining houses (de beers and co.) and Zimbabwe we have a huge economic growth in year one. We may have to execute Zanu cronies to stop them stealing from this new found currency liquidity.