State-owned cement maker East African Portland Cement Company #ticker:PORT is pushing for putting up an inland container depot in Athi River to deliver imported raw materials to the manufacturing hub via the standard gauge railway (SGR).
Managing director Simon Peter ole Nkeri said the move could ease costs of finished products and make Kenya-made goods affordable in East Africa and competitive on the global stage.
Athi River hosts Bamburi #ticker:BAMB, Mombasa, ARM #ticker:ARM, National, Savannah and lately Ndovu cement plants.
“We heavily rely on imported raw materials like clinker for the manufacture of cement. We are engaging the government on this issue and are optimistic an offloading and loading terminal will be built within an inland container depot in Athi River,” he said.
Mr Nkeri spoke during the opening ceremony of the Kenya Homes Expo, a construction industry exhibition that brings together housing developers as well as building material dealers and home accessories.
He said making cement affordable would also spur a drop in product prices, increasing local uptake. This would see increased production to meet demand which would have a positive ripple effect across the industry.
In 2016, Kenya’s six cement producers imported two million tonnes of clinker, a crucial raw material in cement production that was transported by road from the Mombasa port to the Athi River-based factories. They produce cement for onward transportation across East African markets by trucks and rail.
The Homes Expo, solely sponsored by the EAPCC has attracted local and foreign exhibitors in the building industry.
Pension schemes, saccos and private housing units’ developers have also pitched tent at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi to market their housing products.
With the logging ban in force, the exhibition now in its 14th year has attracted light gauge metallic truss and scaffolding manufacturers providing a ready solution to Kenyans experiencing a shortage of timber and poles for house construction.
At the expo are bio-digester companies providing alternative water recycling machinery as well as solar solutions for energy, irrigation and water heating as well as insurance, banks and sacco representatives.