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STRUGGLING industry in the eastern border city of Mutare has received a major boost following Tuesday’s opening of a state of the art, $17 million, returnable glass packaging line plant by Mutare Bottling Company.

Mutare Bottling Company is a subsidiary of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

The new plant, procured from Italian company, Sidel SpA, will produce 1 250 cases of 1 litre and 300 ml bottles per hour. This will allow the company to manufacture and supply 30 000 bottles per hour per line.

Prior to the new investment, the company has been operating with two Crown Cock lines which were installed in 1985 and 1992 respectively.

The combined installed capacity of these two lines was 33,600 bottles per hour or a maximum of 1 400 cases per hour.

Due to their obsolete condition, capacity utilisation has dropped significantly and is currently inadequate to satisfy market demand during peak period, according to John Gould, Mutare Bottling Company chairman.

Gould, who was speaking during the commissioning of the plant, said the investment was a response to the challenges faced by the company.

“The new line is more efficient from a capacity perspective, producing 1250 cases per hour, which is double the combined output from our two old lines which give us economies of scale both in terms of manufacturing as well as distribution,” he said.

“Another factor that has become increasingly important for us as a business is the longer term sustainable benefits that this new technology brings to our operations.”

He said the expansion will benefit the many downstream industries and stakeholders which include suppliers of sugar, oxygen and other smaller suppliers of goods, as well as the city of Mutare and central government.

Gould also said with improved production and delivery process, the company will be able to serve more areas and deliver quality product than ever before.

“This will allow us to meet the consumption needs of our customers more instantaneously thereby helping to ensure the stability and security of employment within our own and stakeholder organisations,” he said.

Henry Nemaire, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) deputy president, concurred.

Maserame Mouyeme, General Manager Coca-Cola Central Africa, said since 2009, Coca Cola system in Zimbabwe has accelerated investments in new production lines, equipment and expanding their brand portfolio, to meet the ever changing needs for their customers.

She also said their organisation has supported various communities in areas of health, water and sanitation, education, business entrepreneurship and other areas that uplift the community welfare.

Chris Mushohwe, Minister of State for Manicaland, bemoaned the continued closure of companies in Mutare.

Mushohwe said it was sad people in the province continue to wallow in poverty and joblessness when the province has been blessed with one of the world’s largest diamond deposits, in Marange.

“Manicaland is reported to have largest troves of diamonds in the world, if what we read in the newspapers is anything to go by, but what is there to show for it when 80-90 percent of our of industries are closing down,” Mushowe said.

“We have to look at ourselves as government and corporate to say if it’s the best we can do our country.”

Source : New Zimbabwe