Witvlei abattoir Reopens

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Omaheke Governor Appeals for Support By Kuvee Kangueehi Gobabis The Governor of the Omaheke Region Laura McLeod has called on the residents of the region to embrace the Witvlei abattoir after it received a new lease of life through a partnership between Witvlei Meat and a Norwegian company. McLeod said despite the fact that the Omaheke Consortium proposal was not successful, the reopening of the abattoir will give job opportunities to hundreds of unemployed people in the region. It was the resolution of the Omaheke Regional Council to get the abattoir started again and residents of the region should look at fostering new relations with the new owners. She noted that the Omaheke Regional Council Executive will meet towards the end of the week to evaluate available options for regional participation in the abattoir. “We will meet to see whether we should be involved in the process of employment and how the farmers’ unions in the region can participate.” She added that while the new owners have the capital to get the abattoir running, the Omaheke residents are vital because they are the suppliers of cattle for slaughter. After the Omaheke Council has pronounced itself on how it would participate, it will seek an audience with the new owners to find out who the shareholders are and if any beneficiaries are listed. The call from the governor comes after some members of the Omaheke Consortium which indicated interest in the abattoir felt betrayed by the decision of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (AgriBank) to award the opportunity of running the abattoir to the Witvlei Meat and Norwegians. The members of the consortium felt that as entrepreneurs in the region, they should have enjoyed first preference in order to keep capital in the region. They stated that since the Development Bank, a public institution, helped finance the reopening of the abattoir, there was no reason for the opportunity not to be given to them. However, McLeod stated that she was informed that the Omaheke Consortium application to run the abattoir was not successful because Meat Market which was expected to give technical support for the project pulled out. She added that she was informed that AgriBank was not prepared to give a penny for the abattoir and that interested buyers needed N$20 million upfront to get the project going. The abattoir, which is situated at Witvlei some 50 km west of Gobabis, was erected at a cost of millions of dollars more than five years ago but did not take off the ground substantially. It even failed to export its first consignment of beef to Europe. The new project under the leadership of prominent businessman Sidney Martin was yesterday expected to start slaughtering following its recent opening. It is expected to breathe new life into the town of Witvlei which is reported to have a high rate of unemployment and alcohol abuse. It is not yet clear whether or not the tannery near the abattoir will also start operating.