Bid to reopen BMC abattoir fails

The BMC has shut down in Francistown
The BMC has shut down in Francistown

FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Meat Commission’s (BMC) abattoir will remain closed as part of the parastatal’s privatisation process, despite a bid by city fathers and farmers to pitch an alternative to government.

The Francistown BMC facility was closed early last year, as it was not viable to operate. Although it has the capacity to slaughter 380 cattle per day, the abattoir was reportedly dismally failing to reach its target. In some instances the facility would reportedly go for an entire day without slaughtering a single cow.

The government-backed parastatal said that it was losing millions of pula on an annual basis to keep the Francistown abattoir operational.

This week, mayor Sylvia Muzila said a Francistown City Council proposal sent directly to President Mokgweetsi Masisi had proved unsuccessful.

“We met the President on the February 1 (2019) with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security.

“They maintained that a decision had been made by government based on the cost-benefit analysis, to close the facility while government is working on a strategy to privatise the BMC.

“The ministry advised that this is an opportunity for the city, the farmers and the business community to go into partnerships with investors to ensure that the facility is revatilised and jobs are created,” Muzila told a full council meeting.

Public Entreprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) is currently working on a strategy to transform BMC into a private entity. The strategy is expected to be unveiled in May.

Muzila implored councillors, farmers and members of the business community to come up with strategies that can be used to effectively revive the abattoir.

“It will be disappointing if we do not act on the opportunity given to us,” she said.

With the Francistown closure, the BMC has since made a provision for farmers in the north to transport their cattle to the main Lobatse BMC abattoir for sale.

Farmers and councillors had sent a delegation to Gaborone to meet the President as they felt the reasons originally advanced on the closure of the BMC were not convincing. The delegation argued that various alternative strategies could be explored to turn the abattoir into a viable entity.

Meanwhile, Muzila told the council that farmers who opt not to sell their cattle to the BMC, could slaughter them at a council abattoir in the light industrial area. Judex Ventures currently has leased the facility.

“The abattoir is now up to the required standard (after undergoing intense refurbishment) and was opened to the public last week,” said the mayor.

The abattoir is rated among the best in the country and boasts a slaughtering capacity of about 500 cattle per week.

According to Muzila one police officer and six veterinary officers have been assigned to the facility to carryout inspections.

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