Govt scuttles US$68m Byo investment

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GOVERNMENT’S red tape has cost the City of Bulawayo (BCC) an investment worth US$68 million after policy changes scuttled the implementation of a fuel-from-waste project by a United Kingdom-based company, it has emerged.

BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA

Pragma Leaf Consulting in 2016 approached the local authority with a bid to set up the waste conversion firm in the city. The company had projected to produce 110 000 litres of bio-diesel and 2,2 megawatts of electricity from waste that it would collect from the city and its environs.

The BCC gave the project the green light following feasibility studies by the company.

Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo confirmed government red tape and the shifting of goal posts had frustrated the company, resulting in it pulling out of the project.

At the time the company made the proposal, the BCC had asked that Pragma Leaf pay the local authority rentals of US$40 000 per annum for the land on which it would build its processing plant.

“They (Pragma Leaf), therefore, intended to establish a US$68 million waste-to-energy plant producing 110 000 litres of bio-diesel, 2,2 MW electricity and creating an employment for 120 plant operatives and further jobs in downstream industries,” read the council minutes where the issue was discussed at the time.

Under the deal, Pragma Leaf was also supposed to procure refuse collection trucks to aid in the collection of waste, which was the project’s raw materials.

Moyo, however, disclosed this week that the government’s decision to change goal posts took the wheels off the project.

“It is true that there had been a proposal by Pragma Leaf to set up a business that would convert waste to energy and fuel. We deliberated on the matter in council and we were convinced that it was a worthwhile project,” Moyo said.

“While we were still in the process of facilitating the necessary procedures, there was a change in the law. There were changes in the statutory instruments that deal with unsolicited bids.

“This meant that we were supposed to re-advertise the project and that was the last we heard about the Pragma Leaf Company.”

Moyo said Pragma Leaf had spent a lot of resources in undertaking the feasibility studies of the project.

“I personally feel that it was unfair to have them subjected to these new regulations after having spent all that money on feasibility studies. There should be a waiver on some of these things,” Moyo said.

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