Dickson Mangena, Business Reporter
A LOCAL foundry company, Meprine Founders and Engineers, says it has lost a lot of business after failing to secure expansion space as the Bulawayo City Council has been delaying to avail land which the company applied for two years ago.
Meprine Founders and Engineers managing director Mr Prince Gobvu said the company had to cut some of its product lines due to shortage of space in their factory.
“We have cut the production of other product lines because our current factory can only accommodate one product line, our main product, the manhole cover. We have to squeeze in some of the products once in a while. We are losing business because now we cannot supply some of our clients because we are not producing enough because of space,” said Mr Gobvu.
He said the company needs space to place two of its new furnaces that they bought.
“We want space to mount two of our new furnaces that we bought from Marula. However, because we don’t have enough space we have not yet collected the furnaces from the seller,” said Mr Gobvu.
He said the company was getting desperate as more projects and markets were opening up for them.
“Now the problem is that there are more projects and markets that we are getting from the time we started working with ZimTrade. ZimTrade will be coming soon to assess our capacity for markets they have found for us but we are now afraid that we might come short because of the small space that we have,” Mr Gobvu said.
He appealed to the city fathers for assistance in expediting the release of land.
“We don’t want to get desperate and end up buying private land that will cause us problems in the future. So as a company that is here to stay we are going the council way but we now feel neglected even though we are also going to create jobs,” said Mr Gobvu.
He said it was good to hear that Bulawayo was searching for investment in other countries but it would not make sense if the local companies feel neglected.
“We know there was a delegation to Malaysia recently which was going to look for investment, that is a good thing but we were hoping that when a local is looking to invest that is a good thing. We have submitted investment plans that are similar to those that the city is looking for outside the country but we are being ignored.
“We want to revive the same industry and we don’t want to stay as a small to medium company forever,” said Mr Gobvu.
Bulawayo City Council spokesperson Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the local authority has not serviced new industrial land since Donnington West in the early 1990s, quickly pointing out that there was an abundance of industrial accommodation due to company closures.
“Efforts were made to provide services to the Umvumila Industrial Area but the harsh economic conditions from year 2000 put paid to that initiative. To date, the area remains partly serviced. Meanwhile, as council strives to address the issue, it is worth noting that there is an abundance of industrial accommodation due to company closures. This creates opportunities for manufacturers like Meprine,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She, however, said that waiting list for stands was growing.
“The waiting list for industrial stands continues to grow and currently stands at over 200. Where allocations have been made, this has been made possible through purchasers who have surrendered the stands back to council for one reason or another.
The situation has not been helped by those purchasers who continue to hoard land and yet fail to develop thus defeating efforts to create employment,
“An exercise is currently underway to carry out a blitz and repossess those stands where non-compliance with the agreement is evident. This should release some stands for re-allocation. The recently advertised investment prospectus also seeks to address these challenges,” Mrs Mpofu said.