TPC sugar plant in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region has suspended operations from the past six weeks to allow urgent maintenance work in preparation for the forthcoming season.
The Plant Manager, Pascal Petiot told the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa yesterday that the closure was due to the prevailing weather conditions and will enable them fix faulty equipment in the factory.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister Office, Mr Majaliwa was touring the plant to inspect infrastructure and the sugar estate, one of the largest sugar estates in the country situated in the 16,000 hectares of land in Arusha Chini area in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region.
"This is long rains season. We have closed production season and we are continuing with maintenance of equipment in preparation of the forthcoming season. Every year we must close for short period to allow maintenance work like this," he told the Prime Minister.
During the tour, the Prime Minister was shown a sugarcane waste power generation plant with capacity to generate 17.5 megawatts of electricity which is used at the plant, workers houses and neighbouring villages and some sold to electricity utility firm, TANESCO which add to the national power grid.
TPC Limited Administrative Officer, Jaffari Ali Omari told the premier that the source of energy in a sugarcane based power plant are sugarcane remains known as bagasse obtained after juice has been extracted from the sugarcane for making sugar and other related products.
The fibrous waste which remains are kept for drying and later burnt to produce heat which is used to convet water into steam in boiler. The steam at high pressure is used to rotate a turbine-generator system to produce electricity. "We use sugarcane waste instead of firewood.
The heat produced reaches 450 centigrade which generate 17.5 megawatts of electricity.
Our consumption for the plant, workers' houses and neighbouring villages reached 12 megawatts and we sell 4 megawatts to TANESCO which they add it to the national power grid," he said.
He said electricity generated at the plant was above the level generated from Hale and Nyumba ya Mungu hydro-electricity plants combined.
According to him, Hale generates eight megawatts of electricity and Nyumba ya Mungu generates three megawatts. TPC Executive Officer, Robert Baissac said sugar production at the plant had increased for more than 200 per cent since they acquired the plant in 2000.
He said the plant had annual production capacity of 36,000 tonnes and they were required to raise the production levels by 100 per cent to 72,000 tonnes per annum. "We managed to beat the target since 2007 and for the time being we have been able to produce 118,000 tonnes in the previous season," he said.
TPC Limited majority stake was acquired by Alteo Limited, in partnership with Groupe Quartier Français (now Tereos Océan Indien) from Reunion Island in 2000.
Over the years, TPC Ltd has made significant investments in the rehabilitation and upgrading of fields, infrastructure and equipment and as a result of the sustained progress made in these areas, sugar production has increased from an annual production base of 36,000 tonnes to the present 1,180,000 tonnes, he said.