Secrecy overshadows N$16b Tses glass plant

A cloud of secrecy is shrouding the much publicized Tses glass manufacturing plant with Government saying they have no clue about the commitment to invest N$1.2 billion through equity acquisition in the plant that has been long coming for in the long coming since 2012.

There has never been concrete explanation about the reasons for the delay on the project from the Groot Group who are steering the project.

"As from the finance Ministry, we have not yet been approached. If we are approached the shares might be bought through Development Bank of Namibia, SME bank, and Namibia Development Corporation (NDC). But we have not been approached yet’’. Schlettwein said The project which was sold as the face lifter for the poorly developed Tses community in // Karas region has failed to commence with developers coming up with counter excuses.

Ballooning cost Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Groot Group, Simon Kapenda who is behind the project revealed that the project costs have now escalated to above US$1 billion ( Approximately N$16 billion at the current exchange rate) from the initial N$400million tag at the initial phase. Among his reasons for delaying the project is that the village council does not have infrastructure sufficient enough to lure the investment.

Ironically Government has so far invested N$19.2 million with N$17.6 million being ploughed through the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth while the other N$2 million was invested in redesigning the town of Tses in anticipation of the mega project which keeps evading fruition. Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein told The Villager in no uncertain terms that his ministry has not been approached in connection with Tses Glass project.

The construction of the Tses glass factory was to be a joint venture between Grootgroup Tses Village Council, SDS and Nissi group. New investors and engineers have come on board from Ukraine, Italy and Germany to kick start the project. Scapegoating While the community and the village council saw seen the project as a way out of the poverty challenges and a potential revenue stream to the local folk the organizers of the project argue that the project plans have been scattered by political meddling although they do not give much detail.

Tses Glass was registered with the (MTI) in 2013 but nothing has materialized with the last that the community was told was that the company was seeking ,the project that was much talked about merely went silent as the investors and Tses village Council members went abroad to get technical advice from their partners. ‘’Politics has caused major delays to the successful development of the Tses Glass project. Too much politics with each with its own purpose. I really wish politics stays out projects development” ’Kapenda said.

He also said, “Groot Systems has successfully conceived the development of Tses Glass factories, we have sourced and put together the world’s best technical experts, technology and equipment suppliers from Germany, Italy, Ukraine and China. The Grootgroup has secured a venture capital firm to syndicate the financing of Tses Glass to the tune of N$700 million for the successful construction and commissioning of the Tses Glass Factories.

Once completed the factory will manufacture, Flat glass, fiber glass, bottles and many other glass products.” Kapenda said ‘’Groot Group has successfully conceived the development of Tses Glass factory, we sourced and put out together the world’s best technical experts’’. He also maintains that despite the uncertainty surrounding the project once the construction of all five different glass factories are more than 47 000 jobs will be created and an estimated value of US$9 billion will be generate as annual revenue. He also further explains that lack of modern infrastructure in the Tses community has also been a stumbling block to the development of the project.

“Tses is a community with no infrastructure for any development to take place. Hence the tactical approach needed to have the above stated infrastructure and logistics in place prior to the calling back of our 670 local general workers”. Kapenda also argues that there have been set backs with the non-availability of accommodation for his construction workers which were worsened by the poor water and electricity supply in the area.

Village Council in the dark Chief Executive Officer of the Tses Village Council, Silas Amulungu who has been at the helm of the local authority told The Villager, “As far as I am concerned I do not know anything about the Tses Glass plant. They are on their own and the council is on its own. The best person to give you information about this is Kapenda himself. I really do not know anything I have never spoken to these guys about that project and I really do not want to be commenting on issues that do not concern us.”

He could also not confirm nor deny allegations of political bickering about the project raised by Kapenda. “Please not that I am not the head of the council and to be honest I do not know.” /Karas Region Governor Lucia Basson, told The Villager that she could not comment on the project as she was not aware of it, saying “I have not been briefed”.

The country imports most if its glass supply from South Africa and China, this would have made Tses Glass the first major glass producing project in the country. Speaking to the Villager the Governor of //Karas region Lucia Basson said ‘’ I have not been brief anything regarding Tses Glass project. I got no idea what you are talking about, I that the questions you send will be answered by my Personal Assistant". Basson said.