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Deal is irreversible says Pokot community

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By | September 29th 2009

By Osinde Obare

Members of the Pokot Community have expressed outrage over a decision by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) to annul mining rights granted to an Indian giant mining firm.

Led by Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio and Pokot county council chairman David Moiben, they termed the move by KVDA as illegal and provocative.

"KVDA cannot turn around and pretend to give the rights to another bidder as they were properly involved in the process that resulted in Cemtech being granted the licenses," the minister told the Financial Journal.

On his part Moiben said the company had entered into a contract with the council that gave Cemtech an exclusive mining rights for the next 99 years.

No going back

"The deal is irreversible and we cannot turn back," he said.

He accused a sitting Cabinet Minister and a former Minister of undermining the project, which the Pokots had waited for so long.

He alleged that former Managing Director of KVDA Michael Parklea had been sacked on tramped up charges to pave way for the maneuvering.

The County Council of Pokotgranted Sanghi Group 99 years exclusive mining rights on limestone quarries in Pokot District.

These include Ortum, Sebit, Chepchoi, Alale, Iang River, Tamkal, Kamatera and other areas of limestone potential. The project estimate to produce 1.2 million tonnes will commence production by 2011.

According to the plans outlined by Cemtech, the proposed cement plant would create a total 700 jobs directly and another 1,000 indirectly.

Power station

It also gives the region an ideal economic platform to drive other growth agenda to the benefit of the region’s inhabitants. Mehta Group plans include setting up a cement plant that will also have its own power station, a cushion from the high electricity costs responsible for high retail prices of cement sold. Market figures indicate that a 50kg bag of cement retails at Sh900 to Sh1000 plus in most upcountry outlets.

But, Mehta intends to cut these prices by half. The firm hopes to take at least two years before the necessary machinery to put the plan is manufactured, delivered, shipped, cleared and installed.

Apart from proximity to export markets, the Pokot plant, it says will also use its location to supply cement to upcountry destinations, at a cheaper cost.

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