Maputo — The Mozambican government's National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE) has justified its order to close a cashew nut processing factory in Macia district, in the southern province of Gaza, on grounds of pollution, and failure to implement measures against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Interviewed in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax", the INAE national director for industry, trade and transport operations, Tomas Timba, claimed that the factory, owned by the Portuguese Condor Group, was polluting the surrounding area, with serious impacts on the health of local communities.
"We received denunciations that the factory is polluting the environment and that its workers are not observing social distancing", said Timba. He added that INAE had suggested the factory adopt a shift system, so that its workers were not all in the factory at the same time.
Timba added that INAE is also seriously concerned about hygiene standards in the factory, since it produces foodstuffs. That meant that the bathrooms in the factory must be rehabilitated.
The factory can only reopen, said Timba, if it implements the INAE instructions on hygiene and safety, including a reduction in the number of workers in the factory.
"Everything is in the hands of the company", he said. As far as INAE is concerned, the closure is only temporary. The company should correct the defects noted by the INAE inspectors, and then it can reopen.
The factory employs 700 people, which makes it the largest employer in Macia. The Condor Group invested three million dollars in the factory, which can process 10,000 tonnes of cashew nuts a year. President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated the factory in October 2018.