By Surihe Gaomas
The small settlement of Witvlei in the Omaheke Region is destined for a major economic boom with the recent acquisition of the N$ 1.75 million Omaheke Tannery and Leather Processing plant whose operations are set to start in a month’s time.
Fidelgo Investments (Pty) Limited, which operates under well-known local businessmen like Sydney Martin and Frank Fredericks, and Italian entrepreneurs struck a deal to acquire the Omaheke tannery from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) on May 22.
Yesterday, entrepreneur Sydney Martin said local and Italian experts were being brought in to start up machinery on site.
He added that the interior of the tannery and leather plant was being revamped, before operations officially start in three to four weeks.
“We are busy installing a warm water boiler, which had been removed by the previous creditors. Technicians have been sourced from Italy and also some locals to start up the machinery, which is in a very good condition,” explained Martin.
Thirty locals are currently employed at the Omaheke tannery, while plans are under way to consider employees who previously worked there.
Positive economic spinoffs are envisaged for the entire region.
There are also plans to establish a shoe-making business as well as soap manufacturing factory from the cut-offs of hides and skin at a later stage.
Meanwhile, steps are also under way to establish a feedlot to supply cattle for slaughter to the abattoir.
“Quite a lot of progress has been made with the feedlot where we are looking at increasing the synergy within Witvlei,” added Martin.
A whole new management team is already in place for the Omaheke Tannery and Leather Processing plant. They are drawn from what Martin terms “experts in tannery and leather production”.
Most of the hides and skins will be sourced locally. There is already a set market for the locally processed goods in Italy .
Welcoming the latest business initiative, Witvlei Councillor Pio Nganate said the village council is in favour of local businesses tapping into this type of business.
“Small businesses and ordinary locals can make pure leather belts, purses, key holders and bags from left-over skins and hides in order to make an income for themselves. These are the spinoffs from the upcoming tannery,” said Nganate.
Talks are planned between the village council and the new owners of the Omaheke tannery to look into renovating the old airstrip. This would not only facilitate business connections but also boost tourism at the village.
Council plans to team up with the Roads Authority to de-bush the area around the airstrip.
“For Witvlei this is definitely a benefit,” said Nganate who informed New Era that the issue will be raised at the village council meeting to be held tomorrow (Wednesday).
Fidelgo Investments (Pty) Limited is a new entity that specialises in tannery and leather production.