Papermakers wait 7 years for machines

24 January 2019 | Agriculture

The dust is refusing to settle in the longstanding feud between members of the Onankali Mahangu Paper Making Cooperative and the Oshikoto regional council over the N$1.7 million in funding provided by the then local government ministry in 2012 for the project.

The ministry allocated the funds to the project under the One Region One Initiative (OROI) to purchase papermaking machines.

The money was then channelled through the council to procure three machines. However, the council has been struggling to acquire them.

The papermaking cooperative was established in 2002 and was registered with the trade ministry as a closed corporation in 2009. It has ten employees.

Project head Abraham Shikongo said the project is at standstill.

He said this year they were given three machines from a supplier who was contracted to procure them, but only one machine is correct and they cannot do anything.

“In 2010 we applied to the then local and regional ministry for funds to boost our project's operations. In 2012 the ministry gave us N$1.7 million to buy our machines and build our workshop, but it was channelled through the regional council, which failed to procure the machines,” Shikongo said.

“In January last year the regional council called us requesting us to write the types of machines that we want, which we did, and later they told us that they allocated a tender to a supplier that will supply us with the machines.”

Shikongo said at this stage they produce paper by hand, but they do not meet the required standards and that is why they require the machines.

Shikongo said they requested a papermaking machine, which they will use to manufacture paper from mahangu stalks, a toilet papermaking machine that will use recycled paper and another for producing envelops.

He said earlier this month a supplier delivered the machines, but only one is a correct one.

“They supplied us with a toilet roll machine that uses already manufactured paper and another one for cutting paper in sizes. We did not request these two machines. The only correct machine is the one of making envelops, but yet we refused to receive it until they give us all the machines we requested,” he said.

Oshikoto CEO Frans Enkali confirm to Namibian Sun that he is aware of the project.

He said the project has been delayed by miscommunication between the regional council and the supplier. Enkali said the regional council is busy verifying the machines to find out whether the supplier had delivered the right machines worth N$1.7 million.

Enkali said that a portion of the money has already been used to construct a premises for the project.

“This project is one of the few projects in the region that received funding from the OROI and the regional council have been busy trying to assist the project get its machines.

“According to the report I received from the director responsible, the supplier delivered three machines but only one is correct. We are busy verifying the products as per the order and if we find out that it was the supplier's fault then we will not pay,” Enkali said.

“That is just a simple logic that one cannot pay for what they did not order. If that is the case we will put out another tender.”

Enkali said that according to the economic viability study conducted by the regional council, this project is unique, viable and can add value to the region, while creating employment opportunities for the youth, and therefore they want it realised.

He said the project will be able to receive tenders for paper all over the country.

ILENI NANDJATO

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