By Abdi Biyenssa @ABiyenssa
Addis Abeba – The Fincha Sugar Factory, known as one of the largest and most historic sugar factories in the country, is yet to resume production after ceasing operations five months ago at the start of the previous Ethiopian rainy season. This prolonged delay has had adverse consequences for employees and the economy.
According to officials, the factory was closed in June 2023 for maintenance purposes. However, a senior manager from the factory, who spoke anonymously to Addis Standard, revealed that the factory is currently unable to resume sugar production due to the damage sustained by vital equipment such as gearboxes, shafts, and sharawud. The obsolete equipment has yet to be replaced, attributed to a scarcity of foreign currency.
Furthermore, the manager revealed that the sugarcane harvest, agricultural machinery, and a multitude of vehicles have experienced significant damage, resulting in an estimated loss of four billion birr. According to him, a total of 51 vehicles have been incinerated thus far due to the inadequate security measures in place.
This is not the only instance when instability forced the factory, which is located in the Sulula Fincha district of the Horro Guduru Zone in Western Oromia, to halt production. In May 2023, Addis Standard reported a suspension of sugar production due to ongoing hostilities between government forces and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in the area.
In 2006, the factory underwent expansion, allowing for a significant increase in annual sugar production from 110,000 tons to 270,000 tons. Although the expansion was successfully completed in 2014, a factory employee revealed to Addis Standard that the recently added production line has been continually encountering obstacles, thereby preventing it from becoming operational since last June.
The employee remains pessimistic regarding the factory’s initiation of operations in the near future. His skepticism stems from the numerous challenges and hindrances that the factory currently confronts, presenting substantial barriers to its readiness for operation.
The employee has also highlighted a noteworthy number of factory workers resigning, mainly attributed to increased security concerns within the factory premises. This collective departure has further added to the difficulties and unpredictability of the work environment.
The factory currently has 2,024 permanent staff members and an additional 5,500 non-permanent employees.
The employee emphasized the potential complications that employees may face, including payment delays and uncertainty, if the factory remains non-operational, which could severely impact their means of sustenance.
However, the manager expressed optimism, highlighting plans to recommence production within the next three weeks. AS