The Dantago clothing factory in Arandis will again be operational – before the end of next month – following a two-year closure.
The factory, which employed about 425 women, closed down in February 2014 when the factory’s sole client, the Woolworths Group, terminated its contract.
The closure of the factory had a negative impact on the town’s women and their families as some of their property were repossessed by creditors, while their municipal bills piled up.
Some were lucky to secure jobs as cleaners at mines, while the majority left town in search of jobs elsewhere.
The mayor of Arandis, Risto Kapendah, on Monday confirmed to New Era that the town council had secured N$400 000 from the government to revive the factory.
“The money is already in our coffers and we are just waiting to finalise the agreements in the next week or so,” he explained.
He added that the funds would be used to buy the 361 machines that are currently standing idle, from the previous owner, adding that the machines have already been cleaned and tested and found to be in good condition.
According to Kapendah, they are also facilitating a partner to help take over the factory, whilst they have managed to negotiate with the owner of the building to relinquish ownership after a certain period.
“This means that the owner agreed that the building will basically be rented from him for a certain period after which there will be an option to buy the building,” he explained.
Kapendah added that the closure of the factory was a massive economic setback for the town.
“It was certainly not an easy situation for the women and their families who lost their jobs, and we could also not allow them to end up as cleaners as they have years of experience and skills in manufacturing, which are indeed an asset for the town. We have managed to return the factory, which was once the pride of the town, to its feet again,” explained the mayor.
According to him the two-year closure of the factory was a well learned lesson and a clear indication that diversification is the way to go for long-term sustainability, especially in the manufacturing sector.
“Our vision for the factory is of such a nature that we will not only operate as a commercial entity but will focus on training and the possibility of branching out to other regions. We want to cement ourselves in the local manufacturing industry and also follow in the footsteps of the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology,” said the mayor.
According to Kapendah, the factory will start with marketing itself locally by targeting government parastatals and institutions, such as hospitals, police and schools.
“These women are well equipped to make garments for our local industry on an international level. Their skills are of international standard as their previous garments were sold in shops such as Woolworths, Foschini and Ackermans for years. There is no need for us to order from, or give tenders to, foreigners while we have the expertise right here in Arandis,” Kapendah said.