For many years residents of Ortum and Sebit in West Pokot considered their parched land that could not support agricultural activity as worthless.
But what was bare land decades ago, has turned into a goldmine. The residents are scrambling to own a share after the government granted Cemtech Group rights to establish a cement plant in the area.
The residents are jostling to secure title deeds in expectation of compensation once Cemtech starts mining the raw material on their land.
“Everyone wants to benefit from their ancestral wealth. This can only be achieved by owning a land title deed,” said Mr Daniel Chetotum of Ortum.
Our survey indicated that land sub-division is going on and the residents want the government to issue them with title deeds as soon as possible.
Most parts of the otherwise semi-arid area are classified as trust land and no survey work had been done to enable the locals to own individual parcels.
“It is the responsibility of the government to assist the locals to secure land title deeds in order to benefit from the natural resource,” Pokot county council chairman David Moiben said.
He disclosed that Cemtech group has received land from the council to build the factory.
According to a feasibility study by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and Lavalin International Limited, Ortum has a reserve of 5.9Mt of limestone, which would be blended with low grade reserve of between 12Mt and 17Mt of the same raw materials at Chepchoi area.
Other numerous limestone deposits are found in Batei, Sebit, Parua, and Marich in Pokot Central. The deposits are also found in Kiwawa, Kasei and Alale locations in Pokot North District.
Cemtech group is to pump Sh6.4 billion into building the cement factory, an investment that is expected to change socio-economic lives of the residents.