The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
ONE of the country’s leading pharmaceutical and personal care products manufacturers, Datlabs is on the verge of completing its US$4,5 million major factory refurbishment as it seeks to ramp up production and explore export markets.
Datlabs chief executive officer Mr Todd Moyo said in an interview, the company has completed most of its Phase 1 refurbishment work, which entailed installation of a state-of-the-art Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.
The Bulawayo-headquartered company started the rehabilitation of its Belmont industrial areas situated pharmaceutical plant last year.
“We have done most of the Phase 1 upgrade and we have now received and installed most of the machinery,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the company had also successfully installed major components of its new highly automated pharmaceutical tablet press machine.
“We have successfully installed most of the major machinery purchased for this (pharmaceutical tablet press machine) upgrade with one item only awaited to arrive this month. This will mean that we will go back to the manufacturing of most of our product range subject to us accessing the much-needed foreign currency to bring in imported raw and packaging materials,” said Mr Moyo.
He said most of the project’s engineering works had been completed.
“We have also completed most of the civil works on this project and are grateful to all stakeholders who have assisted in this upgrade so far, especially all our regulatory authorities,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the rehabilitation of the Intravenous (IV) fluids manufacturing plant has temporarily been shelved to pave way for the completion of the pharmaceutical refurbishment project.
“We have not as yet started working on this LVP (Large Volume Parenterals) project as our aim was always be to focus on the pharmaceutical project first before we begin work on the LVP side. We were, however, hoping we would have obtained the much-needed foreign currency to start importing our requirements but this has been difficult.
“The changes in the economic conditions and especially the foreign exchange rates also mean that we now have to evaluate this project again before making a decision on implementation and time of implementation. We now need much more local capital to finance the same identified LVP upgrade items,” said Mr Moyo.
Last year, the Government had pledged to assist the company to rehabilitate its IV fluids manufacturing plant in the wake of the cholera outbreak. The plant has been non-functional for close to 20 years and the company mooted plans to rehabilitate the IV fluids plant about five years ago at a cost of $2 million but it has over the years been failing to do so owing to lack of funding.
Mr Moyo said the company’s performance last year was dampened by its commitment towards the pharmaceutical factory rehabilitation project further stating that it failed to introduce new products.
“Our performance last year was affected partly by the upgrade as most of our products were not available in the market but we hope to have these back . . . once the upgrade is complete. We will have a better feel of the performance in 2019 once our machines have settled down. We introduce new products on a continuous basis but this time we have been held by the concentration on the pharmaceutical factory upgrade.