TRADE Kings Group’s monthly turnover has collapsed by 70 per cent as a result of continued load-shedding which has badly hit its steel plant in Kafue, says director Dr Bright Chunga.
And Dr Chunga says he is “not accepting or denying” that Trade Kings had started relocating
some of its operations to Tanzania, fleeing from shortage of energy in the country.
In an interview, Dr Chunga said Trade Kings’ monthly turnover had drastically been slashed to only 30 per cent installed capacity on account of the continued load-shedding that has affected its steel plant in Kafue.
“One of our operations, the steel plant, is experiencing devastating effects of load-shedding. For instance, three to four months before now, we had a turnover of US$12 million per month in terms of what we were producing and what we were selling. Now, it has come down to US$3 million,” Dr Chunga said in Lusaka on Tuesday. “In other words, it has collapsed by about 70 per cent because we can only work at night from 22.00 hours to 06.00 hours. We can’t switch on any equipment at night. However, that is in fact the least of our operations that we can relocate. We spent about US$200 million to set up the infrastructure in Kafue; we cannot move that infrastructure to any place, so that operation will continue to exist.”
He, however, said the company was implementing measures to counter the negative consequences of load-shedding.
“We are taking all contingencies; we have had Zesco management come over to see what our basic problem is. They are sympathetic to the fact that we have come down to 30 per cent capacity because of the lack of power supply. We ought to be producing 24/7 but because of the power situation, we are only able to work, not produce, for eight hours a day,” Dr Chunga said.
He said 200 employees were kept on leasing arrangement until the power crisis improves.
Last week, Zambia Development Agency business development specialist Misozi Samboko revealed that Trade Kings Holdings was relocating some of its operations to Tanzania owing to continued load-shedding in the country.
“As you may be aware, as a country, we have competition with other countries in the region in attracting investment,” said Samboko. “It’s very difficult to do business in Zambia. We are in competition with other countries. Some investors have backed out, for example Trade Kings is going to Tanzania.”
But Dr Chunga said: “I don’t know of any such statement from Trade Kings. What we intend to do, where we intend to go; when we have made a decision, we will let you know. So I am not accepting or denying anything. I am just saying that statement [on Trade Kings’ relocation] did not come from us,” said Dr Chunga. “Kafue is the least of our programmes that may be located because we have spent US$200 million to put the infrastructure in place; we cannot repeat that in any country.”