Power cuts cost tiles firm US$1,3m

Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Norton-based tile manufacturing firm, Sunny Yi Feng, has claimed it lost about US$1,3 million after 250 000 square metres of tiles were damaged while in the production process due to electricity cuts.

The Chinese-owned company has also lost several pieces of equipment, especially electric motors, which have been damaged by the rolling power cuts.

Further, Sunny Yi Feng’s production costs have been pushed up as it requires over $100 000 to buy 18 000 litres of diesel per day to mitigate the long hours of load shedding.

This was revealed by the company’s vice managing director Mr William Gung in an interview with The Herald at the plant yesterday.

“We need eight big generators to fire the whole factory,” he said. “So, for the whole day, we need about 18 000 litres of diesel.”

“Power cuts occur here a lot, and we usually don’t have power all day starting from 5am to 9pm. Our operations are all automatic (and) when there is a power cut, everything stops and there is also damage to equipment.

“Our electric motors are the most affected (and there has also been) damage on 250 000 square metres of tiles. Once there is a power cut, the tiles become defective, not good quality. So the defective tiles are worth about US$1,3 million.”

Mr William said he has sought an appointment with ZESA bosses “for a long period” so that they could be prioritised, but without success.

Yesterday, the company was almost deserted as there was no electricity, with the fewer employees on duty largely packing some of the defective tiles.

Mr William said employee attendance has plummeted to about 30 percent because “there is almost, always no power just like today”.

Meanwhile, Sunny Yi Feng plans to engage locals who either have claims or can supply them with ceramic raw materials such as talcite, talc, flint clay, grey clay, silica, china stone, sodium feldspar, potassium feldspar, and kaolin.

Mr William said they took that route because it takes longer to get an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) plan for foreigners compared to locals.

“It generally takes about six months to get the EIA, but for the local people, one a day; you just go to the local EMA office, fill a form and it’s done.”

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