Kigali Leather Limited-a Chinese leather tanning firm is on spotlight for dumping waste into Nyabarongo river.
While Processing hides and skins, the factory dumps blood stains and other chemical waste into the nearby river causing an awful stench.
There are concerns from the general public that the waste dumped in the river may trigger a health crisis.
The factory established in 2014, is located in Kanzenze sector in Bugesera district on the Shores of Nyabarongo River.
According to an audit, the investor was required to create a waste treatment plant where water from the plant mixed with chemicals is treated before it is let out into water bodies and disposing off hides residual to a gazetted place.
However, waste from this factory is only being handled by a dilapidated water treatment plant.
“We set out clear guidelines to the investor on waste water management but the company has not complied,” said Dr Colletta Ruhamya, the newly nominated Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) on Wednesday.
Wang Yuan, the factory Manager says that the current waste treatment plant has capacity to clean up all chemicals since the factory is not using a lot of water that would require a bigger treatment plant.
“It is true we still have challenges, but this is very costly if you go to see the investment needed for a bigger waste treatment plant,” he said. “The required treatment plant would cost U$ 860,000. It has already invested U$ 8 million in the business.”
Currently, the factory has a capacity of making 5 tons a day of white and blue leather which is 70 percent finished.
While visiting this plant located in Kanzenze sector on Nyabarongo shore yesterday, Minister of trade and industry Francois Kanimba said the government is weighing in on options to address the problem.
“We have to make a choice, either to tell you we are very sorry if you want to make tannery business you should relocate to Bugesera industrial park,” he said “another option which we are considering is to contribute to the cost of the water treatment plant.”
The government has gazetted a place for tannery industries in Bugesera industrial park that is under construction. It will include a central waste treatment plant.
“Government may consider investing in the tannery business to make sure the treatment plant is constructed sooner,” the Minister said without setting deadlines to address the challenge.
The government is banking on the tannery industry to help process finished leather that would enable local Small and medium enterprises- SMEs to get leather locally. The country has been importing finished leather from Ethiopia and China.
The government is embarking on made in Rwanda strategy to reduce the country’s widening trade deficit of 5.1% in the first quarter of 2016 after formal imports grew 3.3% as formal exports contracted by 2.4%.
The country’s leather exports fetch $14 million per year with a capacity of fetching over $170 million if the country processes and tan the skins and also start making leather products such as shoes, bags and belts for exports.