The Matsiloje Portland Cement (MPC) has started production. The cement plant is owned by manufacturing guru Mukesh Josh and son Rachit. The two also own Northern Textile Mills (Nortex). Rachit who manages MPC said that they have finally started producing cement after two years of construction.
"We finally started production on October so it has been two months since we started producing," he said. The plant is meant to produce 300tpd. But so far it produces 65tpdthough this is expected to change soon.
Mukesh said that they have had to put on hold some developments because of delays to get land meant for the construction of 85 staff houses, a clubhouse, recreational facilities among others. Presently, people who work at the plant stay in Matsiloje Village or in Francistown about 40km away.
The company has waited for two years to be allocated land to lease and only got two of the four hectares they applied for.
"At first we were given four hectares and we went on to fence it but later on, they said they have had a consultation with the minister so they can only give us two hectares and we have to remove the fence from the other two hectares and re-apply for the other two hectares," Mukesh said.
He stated that the other problem that they are facing is pressure from the union because they are being considered a mine though they operate as a factory or a manufacturer.
They say that the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has approached their employees and they are being put under pressure to pay salaries like the big mines. "We are a small plant producing only 65 tonnes per day and we are not a mine just because we are closer to the raw material does not make us a mine. We are manufacturers," he said.
Mukesh said that that they do have a mining licence for the raw materials they are mining. "We do not have a problem with the union but we are not a mine," he stressed.
He said they have had problems with water and electricity. "We were given water for domestic use using a token for prepaid water so we have to buy our water using a token as if it is a home," he said. He added that they have drilled a borehole to supplement their water supplies. He explained that to get electricity, they have to pay the previous owners bill amounting to P120, 000 and the re-connection fee.
He said they have decided to put on hold their application for a P25 million loan for expansion from Botswana Development Co oporation (BDC) because of problems they are experiencing. The MPC plant is expected to have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years.
expressed interest in importing Zambezi Portland cement from Zambia.