Contruction of West Pokot cement plant yet to start decades later

East African Portland Cement PLC (EAPCC) has shut down its Athi River-based factory for a Sh400 million upgrade in a plan to triple production capacity by 2026.

Construction of the multimillion-shilling cement factory in Sebit, West Pokot County has not kicked off a decade after it was commissioned by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, dashing hopes by the residents who anticipated to benefit economically and socially from emerging job opportunities.

“We fail to understand why this project is taking too long to kick off despite the investor who won the tender making several visits to the site,” said Mr Emmanuel Limarusi from Sebit, where limestone deposits, raw material for cement manufacturing are found.

Ortum Cement Factory

Construction of the factory dubbed the Ortum Cement Factory was supposed to begin in 2010 and to take approximately 18 months to be completed. Originally Cemtech Company was issued with the license to construct the plant on the 650 acres of freehold land 10 years ago for Sh 131m. Tanzania’s Simba Cement later on took over the project after several failed attempts to start operations by Cemtech Limited.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) approved the acquisition of a West Pokot-based cement business Cemtech Limited by Simba Cement Limited in a move that is set to give the factory a lifeline. The regulator gave Simba Cement, a subsidiary of the Devki Group of Companies, the go-ahead to buy 100% of the business and assets of Cemtech owned by Indian conglomerate Sanghi Group.

The residents are opposed to the move by some private developers who want to buy the land at Sh400,000 per acre instead of establishing the cement factory which they say will boost the region’s economy.

“There is an investor who has been mapping this area with the aim of buying these lands from us so that he can take this limestone somewhere else leaving us without the factory which we have been waiting for the last 10 years. We cannot take Sh 400,000 per acre because we need a long term investment,” said James Obama, another resident.

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