Commerce minister Miles Sampa says that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is a threat to the planned commissioning of the US$400m Dangote Cement plant in Ndola in July 2014.
ZEMA recently directed the halting of construction of the plant. Sampa said that ZEMA needs to partner with the government in facilitating the much-needed foreign investments to help the country’s economy grow.
“If ZEMA looks to stop progress then something is wrong somewhere,” Sampa said. “Why in the world, after US$400m has been invested, would ZEMA decide to write to the investor to stop the construction? ZEMA approved the project in 2011.”
According to local sources, ZEMA ordered a halt to the construction of the Dangote cement plant over a dispute on tapping water from the nearby Kafubu River. ZEMA contended that tapping water from the river was not in the initially approved Environmental Impact Assessment report when it approved the planned construction of the plant.
“If Dangote break the rule, let’s treat them like any other company; the people here need jobs,” Sampa said. “Let’s not just dance to the tune of those who do not have the interest of the people here. I am appealing to ZEMA in the next seven days to formally write to advise Dangote to continue with the construction or to stop and that should be done within the law.”
Sampa said that the new plant would increase competition among cement producers and consequently reduce the cost of the commodity in the country. “The construction industry is eagerly waiting for commercial production and distribution of Dangote cement products at competitive market prices,” said Sampa.