BUSINESS NEWS - North West Premier Job Mokgoro has dispatched a team to meet the management of Clover in an effort to halt the looming relocation of its cheese factory from Lichtenburg to Durban.
Clover said on Tuesday it would move its biggest cheese factory in Lichtenburg to Queensburgh in Durban.
The company said this was due to poor water and electricity supply from the Ditsobotla municipality.
Clover also complained about the poor road infrastructure in the area, saying this had increased its operational costs tremendously and affected suppliers.
The move will reportedly cost the company R1.5 billion.
Mokgoro on Wednesday said he appointed agriculture and rural development MEC Desbo Mohono to lead a team to meet with Clover’s management in a bid to save hundreds of jobs.
He said the municipality could not afford to allow Clover to close and relocate its operations as this would have devastating effects on more than 300 families.
“The government depends on private companies which invest in our towns to create jobs. The closure of Clover will have a negative economic impact for Ditsobotla. We are going to do everything in our power to save the over 300 jobs.” the premier said in a statement.
Employees’ jobs at stake
Clover employs about 380 permanent employees and 40 temporary employees.
The dairy group also employs about 20 general workers, 20 truck drivers and truck cleaners.
Mokgoro said Mohono met with the operational team at Clover on Tuesday and she was advised to engage Clover management at its head office in Roodepoort, Johannesburg.
He said the MEC and her intervention team would meet with Clover as soon as possible about the factory closure.
“Our responsibility as the government in any sphere remains to create a conducive environment for businesses to flourish. I must say in this instance we have neglected this key responsibility, hence Clover intends to close shop in the municipality.
“We need to find ourselves and meet the needs of businesses if we are to grow our local economies and create more jobs,” he said.
Mayor accuses Clover of misleading public
Meanwhile, the mayor of Ditsobotla Local Municipality, Tsholofelo Moreo, on Wednesday said he had noted with great concern that Clover would relocate its factory in Lichtenburg.
Moreo accused Clover of misleading the public on its reasons to close down the factory, saying they are devoid of truth.
“Mayor Moreo says such reports are worrisome because the municipality has constantly been engaging Clover about its intention to leave Lichtenburg, and in the same breath attending to all service delivery impasses, which are of great concern to the company,” the municipality said in a statement.
“Mayor Moreo says the municipality, with the help of the district municipality has made some great strides in resolving the water issues in Lichtenburg town, where the company is operating its plant.
“Currently, Ngaka Modiri Molema district municipality is busy with the implementation of the bulk water project, which will improve supply of water in Lichtenburg, Boikhutso and Blydeville areas.”
The municipality also said water supply to Clover was not an issue, because it had designated a specific borehole for the factory.
“The municipality wants to put it on record that the cheese company has been receiving electricity directly from Eskom and not from the municipality as it was reported in the media.
“As far as the terrible state of Beyers Naude road is concerned, the municipality has been in constant engagements with the Department of Roads and Transport Management about the refurbishment of the road as it belongs to the department.
“Furthermore, the municipality has been doing its utmost best to maintain the road.”