Kenya: quarry blockage paralyses cement plant

Kenya: quarry blockage paralyses cement plant
Published: 13 February 2012


Barely two weeks after the troubled East African Portland Cement (EAPC) resumed operations, the cement factory is facing closure due to lack of raw materials.

Members of Maasai community have closed access to the cement factory’s quarry at Kabini and Ngurunga, thus crippling the operations of the cement firm. The 300-acre Kabini quarry is a no-go zone for company tippers. The material cannot be transported to the Athi River cement plant.

Hundreds of workers at the plant now while their day in animated conversations, discussing current affairs and politics instead of producing cement.  "There is nothing to do. We spend the whole day idling here," says Petos Koyra. Mr Koyra says since workers resumed work last week after paralysing its operations following reinstatement of Managing Director Kephar Tande and Board Chairman Mark ole Karbolo by court, they have been idling around the premises.

"Excavation is on but we are not allowed to haul them out of the quarry by the youth manning the entrance," said a driver at EAPCC.

On normal operations, there would be about 50 tippers ferrying limestone to the cement factory. Koyra, a technician, said for the last two weeks, they have been depending on the stocks delivered last year, which they have exhausted.

"We have been running on low capacity, but we are not out completely. We have shut out the kiln," he said. In the company’s receiving yard, there are only kunkur, alumina and iron ore, which come from the other two quarries. "But without limestone, it is not possible to produce cement," said Esther Njeri.

When reached for comment yesterday, Tande said he had resolved the issues with the community, which had started allowing their trucks to collect materials.

"I spent the day at the quarry and I am glad the community has allowed our transporters to collect raw materials. I can assure you the work will normalise next week. The area DC also talked to the community and things will start moving," he said.

Meanwhile, the court yesterday ruled that the cement factory revert to its former signatories, effectively making null and void the inclusion of Board Chairman Mark Ole Karbolo and Jane who has since resigned following The Standard’s expose.