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Pepsi bottler on verge of shutdown, thousands of jobs on the line

Selamawit Mengesha

Moha Soft Drinks Industry S.C. has taken steps to shutter operations at all of its production facilities, potentially putting close to 8,000 employees out of work.

Anonymous sources familiar with the matter told The Reporter that a severe shortage of foreign currency has crippled Moha’s operations. The bottler has been unable to import crucial inputs such as syrup, bottles, crates, and spare parts for its production machinery, according to the source.

Moha is the bottler for PepsiCo products in Ethiopia (including popular soft drink brands Pepsi, Mirinda, and 7UP) as well as Kool carbonated mineral water. The company, which is a member of MIDROC Ethiopia, was established in May 1996. It operates three plants in Addis Ababa, and five more in other parts of the country, including Hawassa and Mekele.

Production has been halted completely at all eight plants for the past year, according to the source. The company has been supplying the market with products from its stock, which has now run out, disclosed the source.

“Moha has been unable to meet consumer demand for the past four months,” the source told The Reporter.

The source alleges that any Moha products currently being sold in the market are either counterfeit or have outlived their expiration date, raising concerns about health and quality.

The bottler has also been forced to let its enormous workforce go, according to the source. More than 8,000 employees have lost or resigned from their jobs at Moha over the past year, according to the source.

Those in management positions are leaving either through voluntary resignations or being laid off, disclosed the source. 

Moha employees, who allege they were not given adequate notice or paid severance packages, have turned to the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) for help.

Kassahun Follo, CETU president, was in discussions with Moha’s management over the past week. A source told The Reporter the talks yielded “positive signals”, hinting at a potential resolution for beleaguered employees.

Getachew Birbo, general manager of Moha Soft Drinks, did not respond to queries from The Reporter

The CETU is reportedly drafting an appeal to Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, the major shareholder in Moha Soft Drinks, on behalf of the company’s employees.

It is not the only one looking to the tycoon for help, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) reportedly discussed the country’s pressing foreign currency problems with the Sheikh during a recent trip to Saudi Arabia.

The billionaire reportedly told the PM he would not funnel any foreign currency investments into Ethiopia due to security concerns, according to a source in Moha’s senior management team.

Jemal Ahmed, CEO of MIDROC Investment Group, has also made the trip across the Red Sea to discuss the challenges facing Moha Soft Drinks with the Sheikh.

Source: https://www.thereporterethiopia.com

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