Lobatse — Construction of the multi-million Pula Lobatse Leather Park, which has suffered a series of setbacks over the past six years, will now be carried out in phases instead of one wholesome big project.
Lobatse mayor Ms Malebogo Kruger explained in several kgotla meetings at Woodhall, Maokaneng, Peleng and Motswedi that the project, initially planned to have five tanneries, would commence with construction of a single tannery.
She pointed out that the number of tanneries would be increased in phases.
The decision to downgrade the project into phases was due to the fact that the country was not currently producing enough cattle skins to supply a big leather processing plant.
"Experts have realised that the cattle skins being produced in the country are not enough for the project of such a big magnitude.
Therefore, it has been downgraded to phases where the first stage will include the construction of one tannery.
The tanneries will then be increased when the availability of cattle skins increases," Ms Kruger said.
The mayor however assured the Lobatse community that the projects, to be constructed on a 38-hectare piece of land in Thema Ward, were still on the cards.
The Lobatse leather park project was conceptualised around seven years ago following the development of the leather industry strategy and was initially supposed to have been operational in 2018.
However, delays, mainly due to lack of funding caused the project to be shelved over the years, with completion dates now revised to 2020.
This has left some Lobatse residents, who saw the project as an employment creation opportunity, asking themselves whether the project would ever materialise.
In 2015, Lobatse MP Advocate Sadique Kebonang pointed out that the leather park would create over 5 000 jobs, which gave unemployed residents a glimmer of hope.
Once functional, the leather park is expected to provide activities in leather processing and manufacturing of different leather products.
Source : BOPA