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Rivatex starts mass production of face masks

By Stephen Rutto | April 1st 2020

One of the 70 tailors hired by Rivatex East Africa making face masks to be used in the fight against coronavirus. [Stephen Rutto, Standard]

Eldoret-based Rivatex East Africa has rolled out mass production of face masks to boost the fight against coronavirus.

The Moi University-owned textile manufacturer, on Monday, kicked off manufacture of the masks that will be distributed to health facilities across the country. The firm was a hive of activity as the 70 tailors Rivatex has hired took their positions. The Government revived the firm last year in a Sh5 billion turn-around.

Managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat said they produce 8,400 face masks in a day.

“As a textile facility, we have embarked on production of face masks. Everything is running smoothly and we expect to produce enough to help in the fight against this pandemic,” Prof Kipkurgat told The Standard.

He said they have now engaged 24-hour production to ensure enough face masks are produced.

“Each tailor can produce up to 120 face masks in a day. We have a dedicated unit where our staff are working 24 hours on rotation,” said Kipkurgat.

This comes after the Government hinted that Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be manufactured in the country.

On Sunday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the Government would soon start manufacture of PPEs to forestall a looming shortage.

His Industrialisation counterpart Betty Maina said the Government is working with textile manufacturers in the country to produce adequate face mask and other FPEs to aid the fight against the disease.

Kipkurgat said they have already produced enough face masks for their staff and that the ones they are making will be distributed to hospitals.

“We want to ensure the masks reach, especially those in the front-line in the fight against Covid-19. We’ll ensure those at the highest risk of contracting the disease are also supplied,” said Kipkurgat.

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A source said other than face masks, Rivatex will also start producing other PPEs, including certain garments.

“We have enough cotton to make the products. Additional workers will be hired, as need arises, to ensure we produce enough to meet demand even as the anti-virus war is enhanced,” he said.

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