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Viable Oil Business Hits Land Snag

SELEBI-PHIKWE: It is now eight years since a business comprising 10 women that officially registered last year has been failing to secure a plot in Selebi-Phikwe and its surroundings.

The company, Tyrolised Solutions Company intends to manufacture mixed oil, petrol, diesel, paraffin, gas and cement from waste plastics and tyres. Efforts to secure a plot from places like Sefhophe, Bobonong and within Selebi-Phikwe hit a snag forcing them to apply for a 10-year lease from council to setup their operations within the landfill.

Without land or a plot to setup they cannot access funding.  The company learned that the Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) would need land as security to fund them.  The Department of Environmental Affairs last week closed their invitations for proposals to fund some projects, but this company failed to submit their proposal because of the land issue. 

The Indian Embassy, according to one of the company owners, Shadinyana Malenye promised to assist financially, but without land it becomes a challenge. “Our hands are tied without a plot,” she said.

The company is yet to sign a contract with council. They are currently busy drafting their business plan.  “We setup the company in 2010 and started applying for land immediately, but up to now we are still fighting and we will never lose hope.  We have entered all the government offices and we do not have money to bid for those that we were told of by the Department of Lands that they would be advertised.  

SPEDU advised us to look for land outside Selebi-Phikwe because locally it would be very expensive. In Sefhophe we were told the plot we identified was unsuitable and we lost the case against Land Board in court.  In Bobonong we were told that there are no plots yet,” she said.

She says they have already identified potential funders for the project, but there is no way funds can be released if the company does not have a secure place of operation. The women initially started off by exchanging the traditional skills of extracting the petroleum by-products by emulating the techniques used to make Sekhokho.  

They burn a mixture of plastics in a 20-litre bucket in an open fire then the steam produced is directed to a container using a hollow metal rod and a curved tyre serves as a cooling system before the

product drips from the rod’s end.  The remaining wax is used as floor and furniture polish.

“Our country is reliant on imported fuel hence we want to close this gap and explore this opportunity to be a leading company to produce mixed oil from plastics and tyres in the country,” she noted.

The end product was taken to the Department of Energy and University of Botswana for testing and they were approved. However, they were ordered not to produce because their highly flammable products need to be produced in a specifically designed plant with a qualified engineer and Saftey, Health and Environmental (SHE) personnel to ensure that it complies with the safety standards.  

They used to sell the products to individuals to earn a living, but they have since stopped producing until the plant is setup. The floor polish, however, failed the tests because it was reported to have the potential to cause skin cancer.

“Our main challenge is the issue of land,” she said 

Malenje said once the plant is operational they would use the gas they produce instead of electricity.  She believes that signing a lease contract with council would benefit them a lot because their operations would be within the landfill area, which is their source of raw materials.  

She also said that it would mean less disposal of plastic waste to the landfill and less overall harm to the environment and ensure energy conservation as materials would be used.

“Our company would use waste materials to produce cost effective energy sources for different businesses,” she added. The area is out of town, which means the plant’s operations will not disturb any business or households.

She added that it has been proven that their products can be used to power heavy plant machinery in mines and industries and said that they intend to supply locally at their initial stage before exploring the international market.

“We have toured a lot of major operations like mines and Botswana Power Corporation so the market locally is secure. If we had a clear picture of the land issue we could have already exploited the agricultural establishments such as Pandamatenga and Mosisedi farms,” Malenye noted.




A kuna mathata

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