Indian cement firm to build West Pokot plant next year

Members of the public stand near a sign post for the proposed cement factory in West Pokot. PHOTO | FILE
Members of the public stand near a sign post for the proposed cement factory in West Pokot. PHOTO | FILE 

Construction of the long-delayed Sh10 billion Indian-owned cement processing factory at Sebit-Ortum in West Pokot County is set to begin in January next year, the company announced on Tuesday.

Cemtech Limited general manager Diptish Nandha said the company has now settled issues that have delayed commencement of the project over the past five years.

Mr Nandha was speaking after meeting West Pokot County Governor Simon Kachapin.

“We have solved the major two problems; one was the quality of limestone content which our experts have successfully managed to solve so we can now produce quality limestone. Our engineers have also managed to solve issues concerning the location and access to the plant,” said Mr Nandha.

The company acquired 650 acres of land five years ago and residents have been waiting with anticipation for the building of the plant that is expected to create jobs for the locals.

Cemtech is expected to directly employ over 1,000 people and benefit thousands of residents in the arid region indirectly.

The company said it will put up an environmentally friendly cement factory, along with staff houses, schools, a medical centre and other amenities.

As part of the project plan, the company will also put up a 64 megawatts (MW) power plant that will also produce extra power to be sold to the national grid.

Cement factories are enjoying increased demand for the commodity supported by major State projects such as building of the Standard Gauge Railway, construction of big shopping malls across the country and a growing housing market.

Mr Nandha pointed out that suppliers of the plant machinery are currently redesigning the machines to suit the country’s road network to ease their transportation.

“The machines are very heavy and cannot be transported easily from Mombasa that is why we have to redesign and tailor make them to suit Kenyan roads,” added the official.

According to the feasibility study for the project which was commissioned in 2010 by the Kerio Valley Development Authority , the area has large limestone deposits with the potential to produce 1.2 million tonnes of cement per year.

The region is endowed with more than 35 types of minerals, with some including gold, gemstone and rubies yet to be exploited.