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Criminals target Tikoe factories


Rethabile Pitso

A manager at Asia Garments, Wang Qing Guo, says criminals are making life difficult for businesses at the newly-established Tikoe Industrial Estate.

Mr Guo last Monday told the Sunday Express he had to cancel his trip back home to China for the festive season in order to safeguard the factory, which is yet to start production but has since begun in-house training for its workers. Mr Guo also said he now sleeps inside the factory to be absolutely sure the company’s property is safe.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in September officially opened 11 factory buildings at the Estate owned by the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC).

The factories are expected to create more than 5000 direct jobs and help alleviate the country’s high unemployment.

However, according to Mr Guo, thieves are wreaking havoc at the Estate that he fears the situation could deter businesses which are yet to begin operations but have already taken up the factories.

Mr Guo revealed the recent theft of sewing machines at a nearby factory had prompted his decision to personally take charge of Asia Garments’ security. The Sunday Express could not immediately get a comment from the management of the burgled company or the police on the situation that Mr Guo says now threatens one of the country’s most innovative business ventures. However, Mr Guo insisted crime was rife at the Estate and something needs to be done as a matter of urgency.

“Most of my colleagues have gone back to China to spend the festive season with their families but I had to stay behind to guard the factory,” Mr Guo said.

“Just two weeks ago, criminals broke into the factory just behind ours here and got away with sewing equipment. And a month ago, one of my Chinese friends from Tai Yuan Garments (Thetsani Industrial Area) was shot in the leg during a robbery, and again, this is not good for business and potential investors.”

Mr Guo also said as a result of the attacks, Chinese business-owners live in fear.

“It is not good that Basotho are sabotaging businesses which are offering them an opportunity to earn a living. These factories are going to employ many people but if criminals come and steal our equipment, and also attack us, it means we will have to reduce the number of people we employ or even shut down completely,” Mr Guo said.

“If crimes such as these continue, the Chinese will consider leaving Lesotho and go to other countries and that would not be a good thing.

“In some countries, police patrol the streets to make sure such crime does not happen but there are no police nearby to help us should we be attacked and this is a major concern.

“Here we are located far from the city and government must do something to protect us.”

Contacted on Friday about Mr Guo’s claims, LNDC Brand Management and Communications Officer, Lerato Tsoinyane, said: “The Investment Services Office deals with issues emanating from the factories and I will check if they have such a case. Whenever such a report reaches our office, we inform the police and make follow-ups.

“That office is also concerned with resolving disputes arising from the factories.”

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