Kansai Plascon Uganda Limited has heavily invested in the state of the art paint making plant and waste water management facilities. The Independent’s Julius Businge spoke to the company’s Managing Director, Santosh Gumte about the development in the paint industry.
On March 22, 2021 was World Water Day; in line with this, how has your Namanve plant been used to protect water resources in Uganda?
We have a world class waste water treatment solution at our Namanve production plant consisting of a two phased treatment process. The chemical, physical and biological treatment of wastewater are carried out at the facility. The first phase is a chemical plant which reduces the highly loaded wastewater up to 90%. The second phase is an automatic biological process, making use of smart water systems advanced technology (SBR) treating the wastewater to a level which allows for discharge to the storm water system. All this helps in meeting the legal obligations as stipulated by the regulatory government agencies like National Environment Management Authority, Ministry of Water and Environment and Uganda National Bureau of Standards. The entire process ensures that polluting the land and water bodies does not happen.
How have these water treatment facilities fared?
We have reduced the costs on waste disposal by optimal removal of excess water from the water sludge by means of a filter press. Through Uganda Cleaner Production Centre (UCPC), a synergy was created with other companies to help minimize waste to the environment by utilization of the filter cake in their processes. We also have an onsite well equipped analytical laboratory with trained and qualified personnel for analysing/testing treated waste water effluent before discharge to the environment. Investments in waste management facilitated the process of certification, implementation and maintenance of the Environmental Management System to ISO 1400:2015.
How best should the government of Uganda through its regulatory agencies work with private sector players like you to keep water resources safe?
We have had a good working relationship with government agencies. On top of doing onsite tests, we sometimes do external tests at National Water and Sewerage Corporation to ensure that we do not get it wrong. On top of regulation, government should put in place a central waste treatment plant within Namanve industrial area to further protect the environment from industrial waste pollution.
Away from matters waste management, as a business, how have you responded to the negative impact of COVID-19 since March last year when lockdown measures were put in place?
All businesses were affected during the lockdown period of 2020 but by meeting the guidelines set out by the ministry of health and taking the necessary precautions, we managed to service our customers from mid-May. Last year was not easy, and sales were lost for six weeks but we managed to recover, and not only finish 2020 well but have a strong setup for 2021.
What is your general description of Plascon at the moment?
We are Uganda’s leading paint manufacturer with 60% market share. We work every day to produce the best paint possible at the best price to supply the Ugandan and export markets.
In terms of demand and related issues, how do you describe the paint market in Uganda for the last 3-5 years?
2020 is not a year that anyone would want to repeat as the challenges then regarding health and community are now also starting to come through in supply chain issues and raw material prices. We have managed to negate increases over the years as we have good relationships, planning, and suppliers. However, the next few months will place supply chains across industries under pressure. In relation to the performance of the paint market, the last five years have been very robust. We have seen increased competition from new entrants and existing brands, ensuring that we all perform at our best. Overall, the construction industry continues to drive demand for paint and coatings.
Any major plans in the coming few years?
As part of the Kansai Paint group, we are exposed to technical advancements in Japan, India, and South Africa, especially in the decorative and automotive industries. Some of these innovations are very market specific but others are also relevant to Uganda. Our challenges are local but our solutions can come from the international market.