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BCC intervenes in United Refineries hitch

by Staff reporter
05 Nov 2020 at 06:23hrs | Views
UNITED Refineries Limited (URL) is expected to resume operations at its factory on Monday following interventions by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to solve water supply challenges that forced the company to suspend operations.

The Bulawayo-based agro-processing firm on Tuesday announced that it was suspending operations at its factory due to water shortage.

Bulawayo is experiencing the worst water crisis in its modern history blamed largely on the BCC's failure to expand its pumping capacity in tandem with the growing population. URL with 400 employees uses between 60 000 and 150 000 litres of water per day.

The company which has been in existence for more than eight decades, is one of the country's leading and innovative producers of cooking oil and brands in personal care, hygiene and other value added agro-products categories. It is also one of the major Bulawayo-based industries that survived collapse when de-industrialisation hit the city starting from 2000.

URL recently introduced mealie-meal production and now has most of its food products fortified with critical vitamins for consumer health benefits. Over the years, the company has grown to be one of Zimbabwe's leading brand manufacturers with export focus while looking forward to continued innovation.

The company is also keen to list shares on the newly established Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX). BCC made an undertaking to exempt the industrial areas, city centre and mines from the water shedding programme so URL should not be affected by water shortages.

In a statement yesterday, URL management said Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube and his team pledged to work towards restoration of water supplies to the company.

"Our company engineers are working together with the BCC water department to ensure water supply to the Kelvin Industrial area is restored promptly. Based on the feedback from the joint team, our factory operations should resume by Monday, November 9. We are grateful to the responsiveness of the town clerk and the city water engineering office for giving attention to the issue of resuming water supplies to the Kelvin Industrial Area," read the statement.

"Separately the company is also pursuing other medium-term strategies together with its partners to augment water supply for factory operations. URL remains committed to serving its growing customer base with essential brands which have become part and parcel of daily lives of our customers."

Mr Dube said while the industrial site remains exempt from water shedding, the Criterion reservoir that supplies URL and surrounding areas could not pump enough water due to low levels.

"The industry is very important to us in terms of employment and provision of goods and services. You can imagine if URL shuts down, it will create many shortages in the value chain because of the kind of goods that they produce. So, we are trying all our best to restore water to the areas and they have been very co-operative and assisted in providing materials for the works that we needed to do there," said Mr Dube.

He said the hot weather condition that has been experienced in the past few weeks has also increased the water consumption in the city while supplies remain suppressed.

Mr Dube said Bulawayo's hope for improved water supplies now lies on the connection of the Epping Forest project to the city's water system.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is conducting running tests on boreholes that were drilled and installed at Epping Forest in Nyamandlovu and will deliver 10 megalitres of water per day.

Source - chronicle