Kenya: concern over slow pace of cement plant

Kenya: concern over slow pace of cement plant
Published: 01 December 2011

The construction of a cement factory in West Pokot was received with high hopes of new jobs and business opportunities, but more than one year after being launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga no building has started and some residents fear it might never be completed.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the construction of the factory at Sebit in July last year but no work has yet taken place. The factory was to be put up by investors from Cemtech and Sanghai group of India who plan to put up the factory with staff houses, schools, a medical centre, and staff training centre on 650 acres the firm had already bought from the locals. The group also planned to put up a 64Mw power plant with 50Mw from it to be sold to the national grid.

Studies by the Kerio Valley Development Authority found 5.9Mt of limestone at Ortum-Sebit in Pokot Central, enough to supply 300,000tpa.

During the launch celebrations the Prime Minister said the investment would open up West Pokot, which has lagged behind in development. He described it as a milestone to fight poverty. "The cement factory will be crucial in eradicating poverty and cattle rustling," he added.

Kavee Quarries had been mining limestone in the area since 1997 and taking it to Uganda for processing. The company cited the lack of electricity and poor roads as factors hindering the building of the factory.

The group, the world’s largest producer of cement, won a tough battle with India’s Mehta group and promised to start construction as soon as possible. The first phase, which involved putting grinding machines was supposed to start this year. The land has been levelled however, ready for building to begin.

Many business people went to the area immediately after the launch and put up business premises and rental houses targeting the workers expected to be employed in the factory.