PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane on Friday officiated at the sod-turning of the third phase of the Ha Tikoe Industrial Estate project which entails the construction of seven factory shells.
The Tikoe Industrial Estate is owned by the parastatal, the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC).
Dr Thabane said the government-funded M440 million project will employ 300 people during the construction phase and it will result in the creation of at 8400 new jobs upon completion.
“The Ha Tikoe factories in Maseru have so far created 5644 jobs and it is expected that the number will increase to 8400 on completion of the third phase of the project,” Dr Thabane said, adding that government would ensure that M150 million of the construction funds would directly benefit small and medium contractors.
“This project will bring additional developments in the form of road construction, the internet and water and electricity supply. When operational, the firms will also boost the public transport industry, cleaning services, private security companies and housing.”
Dr Thabane said it was encouraging development that the project tender was awarded to a local construction company, Sigma Construction. He said this evidence of the growth of local companies.
Dr Thabane also used the occasion to invite foreign investors to the country, saying Lesotho was open for business and respected property rights. He also urged Basotho to shun corruption and other activities that were likely to scare away investors.
“We invite investors to come and invest in Lesotho. The government assures them that there is stability. We also vouch for legal protection of the investors’ rights. We appeal to the investors to abide by the international labour relations laws and regulations to protect the rights of the workers.
“We have to despise corruption at all costs because it is a cancer that may thwart our economic growth. It would be a shame if investors were to close shop and have many people lose their jobs,” Dr Thabane said.
Speaking at the same event, Trade and Industry minister Habofanoe Lehana said the Ha Tikoe project was one of many initiatives by the government in line with its mandate of creating jobs for Basotho and stimulating socio-economic growth.
Mr Lehana said the new factory shells would help the LNDC to accommodate local and international businesses who had already shown interest in setting up shop in Lesotho.
“The LNDC already has a list of local and international businesses who wish to operate in Lesotho. These shells will help the LNDC to operate those. Many more shells will be built in various districts. A feasibility study is nearing completion for a construction of factories in the Berea district. Some factory shells are ready to accommodate investors in Mafeteng where a special economic zone is being setup,” Mr Lehana said.