Textile plant causes stir in Windhoek

Posted On Wednesday, 02 January 2002 03:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The Namibian government and the city of Windhoek are under fire after the disclosure that no environmental assessment was done for the multimillion-rand Ramatex textile factory that was snatched from under the nose of SA. 



There was disappointment in SA this year at the loss of much-needed foreign direct investment when Malaysian textile manufacturer Ramatex decided to walk away from a planned billion-rand investment in Eastern Cape and go to Namibia.

In September, Ramatex laid the foundation for its Namibian plant at almost half the SA cost.

Namibia's policy requires that an environmental assessment be completed for all projects before approval can be granted for their implementation.

In this case, the proponent of the project, the Windhoek municipality, was responsible for the environmental assessment.

However, the municipality did no assessment, and the Ramatex factory is nearing completion in the Otjomuise suburb of the capital.

The absence of a study has raised suspicions among environmentalists as the textile industry is renowned for using a lot of water and requiring disposal of large volumes of hazardous effluent.

Ludwig Narib, an executive for transport at the municipality, has confirmed that the only study was on the suitability of establishing an industrial area at Otjomuise.

The study, carried out before Ramatex's move, was necessary because of the location of the area in relation to residential suburbs, and also a new reclamation plant.

The environmental affairs directorate in the environment and tourism ministry had no record of a Ramatex environment assessment report. A deputy director said it knew of the study for the development of an industrial area 'which can be seen as a kind of assessment. However every project needs to have its own done.'

The Environmental Management Act is not in place, but is expected to go to the cabinet early next year.

Environmentalists said textile factories were generally considered to be terrible polluters, 'worse than tanneries'. According to a study at 12 major SA textile factories in 1993, 70% to 80% of the water intake is returned as industrial effluent.

The national average of water intake in the study was about 137l/kg but could be as high as 1400l/kg. Textile plants use dyes and other chemicals, many of which are not retained in the final product but discharged as effluent.

Effluent or waste water is typically very salty and some has high heavy metal concentrations.

Ramatex manager Yee Siong Chua said dying used a lot of water, but would not say how much.

A water treatment plant was part of the project, but he said: 'Don't mention the water requirement. There are a lot of issues on water.'

Last modified on Thursday, 17 April 2014 16:45

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