THE Outapi and Eenhana abattoirs are on the verge of becoming white elephants as the two facilities are operating at a loss.
Additionally, they are experiencing severe challenges hindering operations.
The two abattoirs are said to be about to close down as there are not enough livestock farmers to supply them with animals to slaughter.
Ben Shikongo, president of the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA) and chairperson of Namibia Northern Abattoirs, revealed this during the minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein’s familiarisation visit to the northern regions over the weekend.
“When the Outapi abattoir was inaugurated, there were a lot of challenges, and contractors were coming in and out … There were also challenges with local farmers being a bit hesitant to sell their livestock ..,” Shikongo said.
The 2019 drought also negatively affected operations at the Outapi abattoir.
He said the Northern Electricity Distributor (NoRED) charges the Outapi abattoir about N$32 000 per month, which is exorbitant.
“These operational costs are charged every month – whether we slaughter or not. Thus we are appealing to the government to waive demand charges at the local abattoirs … ” he said.
Shikongo said utility costs at the Outapi abattoir are too high, and a number of bills need to be paid to NoRED.
The abattoir also faces a lack of local quarantine facilities and meat inspectors.
The abattoir currently hires a meat inspector from African Meat Supplies, Shikongo said.
“We need a meat inspector fully employed at Outapi abattoir to avoid all these high charges,” he said.
He said the Eenhana abattoir was fully operational for only one month in 2019, causing it to operate at a loss.
“The contractor has been on site for about nine months … which has caused the abattoir’s utility costs to accumulate … “Shikongo said.
The Eenhana abattoir currently uses a generator to conduct slaughtering as NoRED cut off its electricity supply due to unpaid utility bills in June.
This month, the abattoir managed to slaughter only about 20 head of cattle out of the initial target of 35 per month.
Schlettwein said abattoirs will only have enough funds if livestock farmers are willing to sell their livestock to them.
“The issues raised here are technical and financial, and as a ministry we will try to sort them out. At the moment farmers are constrained, and some farmers only have a few cattle remaining after the devastating drought spell. We are in a financially tight position and we must see how we can mitigate the financial burdens. High utility costs are not sustainable. If your utility costs are too high, you cannot make any inputs. These are financial problems and we need to tackle them,” he said.
The Outapi abattoir was inaugurated in 2018 and handed over to Namibia Northern Abattoirs, while the Eenhana abattoir was constructed in 2019 and is yet to be officially inaugurated.