Clover closes SA's biggest cheese factory due to municipal woes in the North West

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Garbage dumped in a Lichtenburg road. The local municipality has been beset with many problems, including  with shoddy refuse collection and dumping.
Garbage dumped in a Lichtenburg road. The local municipality has been beset with many problems, including with shoddy refuse collection and dumping.
Deon Raath
  • Clover is closing South Africa's largest cheese factory in Lichtenburg due to "ongoing poor service delivery" by the local municipality.
  • It is moving production to eThekwini, where the municipality is more supportive, the company says.
  • Ongoing water and electricity outages, and a pothole-ridden road, have convinced the company to pack up. 

Dairy group Clover is closing down South Africa's largest cheese factory in Lichtenburg, North West, blaming "ongoing poor service delivery" by the local municipality for the decision.

After large losses due to long-standing water and electricity disruptions, Clover is moving its Lichtenburg production activities to Queensburgh in Durban, where the company already has a plant.

While Durban's eThekwini municipality "has proven to be supportive", Clover says it has for years tried to engage the Ditsobotla Local Municipality on service delivery - without success. 

"For years, the Lichtenburg factory has been experiencing water and power outages and the surrounding infrastructure has not been maintained by the municipality. Despite numerous efforts to engage the municipality on these matters, the issues have not been resolved."

Disruptions to electricity and water supplies have hit its cheese production hard, especially in the treatment and pasteurisation of milk.

"This has negatively impacted production which requires a continuous process and it is no longer feasible for the business to operate in Lichtenburg," said Clover. 

Netwerk24 reported that the company also struggled to use the road leading to the factory, which due to large potholes was almost impassable.

The company’s move will result in 330 of its people losing their jobs, according to Netwerk24.

The publication also reported that the move will cost Clover R1.5 billion. 

Clover is one of many companies in South Africa that have been impacted by poor service delivery.

Earlier this year, poultry producer Astral Foods obtained a High Court order against government and the Treasury after the Lekwa (Standerton) municipality failed to delivery basic water and electricity supply services to its factory.

Packaging manufacturer Mpact and food brands group Libstar have also suffered due to poor service delivery at their production plants.

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