Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Certifying authority says BMC might re-open tomorrow

After closing down for nearly a month, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Lobatse and Francistown abattoirs are expected to reopen tomorrow (Monday), if the certifying authority, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) is satisfied.

BMC Chief Executive Officer, David Falepau, told Sunday Standard that the hygiene swabbing took place on Friday at both Lobatse and Francistown abattoirs and the results are expected today (Sunday).

He stated that the suspension on issuing export certificates for BMC meat will be withdrawn immediately thereafter.

“The suspension was imposed due to a number of shortcomings regarding the general state of repairs to the facilities, particularly Lobatse, which requires greater annual expenditure on repairs and maintenance than a newer plant,” said Falepau.

According to Falepau, the physical structures and all immediate issues, such as roof leaks, door seals, floor and ceiling surfaces, window screens, and drainage screens have now been addressed. He stated that larger asset replacement, such as backup generators, additional refrigeration and Lairage, are scheduled to be completed by December.

However, he did not reveal the losses incurred during the closure and said these would be determined after slaughter resumes and the extent to which the non-export stocks can be sold into the domestic market becomes clearer.

DVS is the Competent Certifying Authority accountable to the European Union for auditing BMC as an export abattoir with regard to their state of compliance with the regulations.

On the 27th February, the Director DVS advised veterinary officers at the two abattoirs to cease issuing export certificates for BMC meat. Falepau stated that immediately following the shutdown of the two plants, the DVS worked closely with BMC to ensure all outstanding issues were addressed to a state of compliance with the regulations.

Local Farmer and business man, Kwenantle Gaseitsewe criticized the BMC abattoir’s closure and labeled it as ‘ignorance that cost the cattle industry’. “What happened to many BMC initiatives of improving cattle and encouraging Batswana to venture into cattle industry,” asked Gaseitsewe.

He stated that cattle maintenance is expensive and said Batswana will end up facing loses due to the closure of the abattoirs. He said the closure came at the wrong time, the beginning of the year, when there are a lot of expenses.

“It is not good as the cattle industry has a larger share of the country’s economy,” said Gaseitsewe.

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