Business / Companies

Chisumbanje ethanol plant resumes operations

by Staff Reporter
25 Mar 2013 at 20:18hrs | 3108 Views
GREEN Fuel resumed operations at its ethanol plant here yesterday, raising prospects that the country could soon start the mandatory blending of fuel that has been on the cards for sometime.

There was jubilation as workers who had become restive after being sent on forced leave following the closure of the plant last year, were relieved to get their jobs back.

The resumption of operations follows a directive by Vice President Joice Mujuru who toured the plant and its sugar estates last week.

Ethanol production is expected to start after the Easter holidays as the firm is still recalling the workers.

When The Herald visited the plant yesterday, some of the employees were gathering outside the plant as their names were being called.

Said Green Fuel production manager Engineer David Muwandi: "We have started with recalling our employees and after that we will do some refresher courses because most of them have not been doing this job for a long time. We have projected to start actual production on April 4."

Eng Muwandi said they were expecting to have all workers reporting for duty by the end of the week.

He said Green Fuel wanted to procure spares and chemicals used in ethanol production.

The plant, Eng Muwandi said, produces an average of 150 000 litres of ethanol daily.

"We are in the process of upgrading our machinery and soon we will be producing between 200 000 litres and 250 000 litres daily," he said.

Green Fuel assistant general manager Mr Raphael Zuze said the re-opening of the plant was a process that took some time since it was closed for a long time.

"It is a process and we are still mobilising our workers," he said. "Those who harvest the sugar cane should come first before the plant starts to run. We are still attending to logistical and administrative issues."

Green Fuel workers welcomed the re-opening of the ethanol plant.

Mr Thulani Sibanda, who works as a supervisor, said the re-opening of the ethanol plant would not only benefit Green Fuel employees, but the nation at large.

"If this plant is running, the country can reduce its fuel import bill by 10 percent," he said. "This is a welcome development that we all cherish not only as Green Fuel employees but as Zimbabweans."

Another employee, Mr Stanely Chieza, said the re-opening of the ethanol plant brought relief to workers who have gone for almost a year without salaries.

"We are happy that this plant has re-opened," he said. "As workers, we are now assured that we can decently look after our families."

Green Fuel is now waiting for the issuance of a licence that would enable it to sell anhydrous ethanol to all licensed oil companies in Zimbabwe.

Government recently gazetted regulations making it mandatory for all licensed oil companies to sell petrol blended with a minimum of five percent of locally produced ethanol.

Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Cde Hubert Nyanhongo said yesterday that consultations with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority to expedite issuance of a license to Green Fuel had begun.

"I have talked to officials from Zera and all I can say at the moment is that we are making progress to ensure a licence is issued," he said.

"We want to adhere to the instruction given by the Presidency."

VP Mujuru ordered company officials to open the plant while the Government re-aligns the fuel blending policy.

Green Fuel closed its plant in February 2012 after stocking up the maximum 10 million litres of ethanol that its storage facilities allow

Source - Chisumbanje
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