Effect of Political Unrest Still Haunts Companies


Two companies involved in farming and agro-processing appeal to PM Office




Two farming and agro-processing companies that were affected by last year’s political unrest have lodged an appeal to the Prime Minister’s Office asking for compensation for the damage that they sustained.

Africa Juice Tibila S.C and Hawassa Agriculture Development Enterprises voiced their concerns regarding the promised support from the government following damage and looting caused by political unrest in parts of Amhara and Oromia Regional States. They were among no less than 20 investments affected by violence and political protests in the two regional states.

During the wave of unrest, factories in the Sebeta area owned by Turkish investors, including SAYGIN DIMA Textile Factory, Bmet Cables and Kumtek Plc –PVC and plastic processing companies – were also attacked. Companies like SAYGIN DIMA reported the highest degree of damage, with a third of its factory blocks completely burned down and huge property damage to the remaining office blocks. Flower farms around Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara Regional State saw the same damage.

Africa Juice, which is owned by Dutch investors, suffered damage and looting at two of its farms, the juice factory, stores, offices and accommodation blocks were damaged by the unrest on October 4, 2016. Located 200km southeast of Addis Abeba, the Company employed more than 2,000 people. It processes fruits for export and produces vegetables and fruits for the domestic market.

“I really have nothing to add right now,” said Harry Van Neer, CEO of the Company, in a phone response to Fortune .

In a later email response, Van Neer explained that in order to rebuild the business to where it was prior to the attacks his company needs and is still awaiting the final delivery of the support measures committed to by the Ethiopian government.

In a letter issued by the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions in support of he Company, and signed by its president Kassahun Folo, on January 31, 2017, the Company set out its complaints that the government had not given it the support it was promised.

It requested an extension of tax and other related payments, and reimbursement for the damages. Africa Juice also asked for duty free privileges to import vehicles, tractors and machinery in order to replace the damaged ones.

“This would then create a platform from which we can continue our investment and expansion programme and grow sales, exports and employment,” said the CEO in his email.

Hawassa Agriculture Development Enterprise, the other company involved in the appeal stated that its employees are still at risk.

Hawassa Agricultural Development Enterprise engages in the plantation of crops such as corns and haricot beans. It was founded in 1960 and is based in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.

“Close to 160 workers have lost houses and property amounting to around three million Birr,” said Mulatu Gebre manager of Hawassa Agriculture,

The state owned farm, operates under the Oromia Seed Development Enterprise is back to work, he added.

In addition to the damages suffered by the workers, Hawassa Agriculture was said to have lost 12 million Br in property. Estimated costs to repair the damage are around 90 million Br, according to the farm’s managers. Before the unrest the Enterprise employed 220 people. They now have 200 employees.

“This was as the result of the damage,” said Mulatu.

In the after math of the unrest, the Development Bank of Ethiopia was mandated to asses the damage on the factories and other investments. In his recent press briefing for both private and state media, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stated that close to 20 million dollars of damage was caused by the the unrest.



By DAWIT ENDESHAW
FORTUNE STAFF WRITERS

Published on Feb 14,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 876]


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