29 August 2006

Botswana: End of the Road for Notwane Quarry Pty Ltd

A quarry mining company which has been ordered by the court to stop operating their Tlokweng mine has expressed regret at the loss of jobs resulting from the order. In two weeks time Notwane Quarry (PTY) LTD will close its business in compliance with the court order and retrench over 38 employees.

Notwane Quarry landed in trouble after residents of Tlokweng complained that the company's tipper trucks caused a lot of dust for them and that the same tippers were a threat to their children's lives. The concerned residents then successfully applied for a court order to deny the company access to the road passing through the village to the quarry.

Notwane Quarry Manager, Peter Zunckel told Your Money that they have already retrenched 20 employees. "We are going to be forced to retrench all the remaining 18 employees when we wind up business in two weeks time.

"When the company started operations in 2001, P11 million was invested. "This a multi million pula project but we are not going to be the only ones to lose out. The government too which has an obligation to create jobs for Batswana stands to lose out and all because of a small issue that has been blown out of proportion," he said. Zunckel denied allegations that the company is being evicted from Tlokweng because they refused to tar the road before starting operations.

"What residents don't seem to understand is that most of the tipper trucks they complained about did not belong to the company but to individual Batswana . These same Batswana are going to be forced out of business too." He alleged that the real issue might not be the dust caused by the tipper trucks but the differences between some residents and the Quarry site landlord, Derrick Brink.

"This company does not belong to Derek Brink as some people think, it belongs to a South African company named B&E International. Brink is merely the site landlord. We are his tenants. The directors of Notwane Quarry are N.T Danoher, T.G. Wiese, S.J.Danoher, R.W. Till and M.D. Lesolle" he said. "This matter is handled at the highest offices. These Tlokweng residents I understand are very powerful and we are not. But we do love Botswana and we have been doing business in the country since 1999 and had no plans to relocate..

Most of our employees are Batswana and it is a pity we have to close. We have met with the Minister of Lands and he told us that the issue is beyond his control since it involves the court. "But should the court order be reversed my company would be glad to re-invest in Botswana," said Zunckel.

Meanwhile Tlokweng residents Spokesperson Clara Olsen has dismissed allegations that it was the residents who forced the company to close down. She said , "That road to the quarry was closed by the government, not us. We only complained about the dust and noise made by the tipper trucks. We are not government and therefore we have no powers to bar the company trucks from using the road. "The directors of that quarry did not abide by certain laws and I am disappointed that the Managers of Notwane Quarry are pointing an accusing finger at Tlokweng residents when in-fact they know that not tarring the road before starting their operations was unlawful."

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