Finally the government acquired 100 per cent stake at the General Tyre after buying back 26 per cent of shares in the tyre making industry from Continental AG.
The new development signifies the commitment of the government to revive the factory which was once the largest tyre-making plant in the East African region, with peak production of as many as 1,200 tyres per day and employing 4,000 people.
The Chief Secretary, Mr Ombeni Sefue, said the retaking of the tyre making industry by the government would pave the way for revitalising the industry which was placed under the National Development Corporation (NDC) to lead it to reclaim its past glory and produce the wheels to drive the economy of the country and the East African region.
The NDC was assigned to come up with a business plan which entails all-inclusive survey of the market in the region, identification of vital employees who worked till suspension of production in 2009, identification of a credible investor to work closely with NDC for the production of high quality tyres and good care of rubber plantations in Muheza, Kilombero and Zanzibar.
We commend the government for its commitment to revive General Tyre and making sure the commitment is fulfilled by involving the NDC to assess the viability of the plans to revive the industry and providing 1.0 million US dollars to retake it.
We are encouraged as it proves the commitment by the government was not a mere lip service for gaining political mileage in the run up to the October General Election.
We see that revitalisation of the tyre making industry could not come at a better time. Tanzania and the rest of East African region for that matter, is one of the fastest growing markets with rapid growth of the middle class that has pushed demand for automobiles to an all-time high creating a growing market for all kinds of tyres.
The high demand for tyres has seen even attracted sales of used products, the scrap tyres which have flooded the market and unfortunately are highly preferred simply because they are cheap.
We are convinced the market in the East African region is waiting for the comeback of the Arusha based industry and we have no doubt that its high quality tyres will make inroads into Kenya’s tyre market dominated by Firestone East Africa (1969) Ltd and its competitors, French giant, Michellin Tyres and Italy’s Pirelli Tyres.