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Firm: Clinker import ban to kill industry

By Wainaina Wambu | February 20th 2020
By Wainaina Wambu | February 20th 2020

Small cement producers are at risk of closing shop if the government heeds call to ban clinker imports.

Bamburi Cement Managing Director Seddiq Hassani said the move would, in turn, see hundreds if not thousands of Kenyans lose their jobs.

This is even as he revealed plans by Bamburi to build another clinker line in the “next two to three years” that will raise the company’s production of the raw material for making cement.

“The problem is not for Bamburi alone. If banned, the problem will be for all those who rely 100 per cent on imported clinker,” he said.

Hassani was speaking when the firm unveiled its cement brand, Fundi.

“Some of them import 100 per cent of their needs. From my own perspective, I don’t know what the government might do, but it would put at risk those companies, then some jobs and investments will be lost. I don’t think it’s sustainable,” he added.

The cement maker has a clinker production facility in Mombasa, but also imports some of the raw material to supplement its production needs.

Hassani, however, said Bamburi, which produces 3.2 million tonnes of cement annually, would survive due to its competitive strength.

“Whatever the decision is, we are strong enough to face any kind of competition,” he said.

Devki Group Chairman Narendra Raval, who owns National Cement Company, has been leading the call to have clinker imports banned.

This, he argues, would support local manufacturers and lower cement prices.

Devki Group is putting up a second clinker line in Emali, Kajiado County, that will raise the company’s total capacity to 3.5 million tonnes of clinker annually.

“That project capacity is sufficient in supplying East Africa,” Raval told The Standard in a previous interview.

Hassani said the new Fundi cement brand is the most affordable under the firm’s stable, targeting individual home builders.

It is under the line of “special application products” and will be mostly used for repairs and plastering.

“This is a demonstration of our zeal to respond to emerging market needs in the building and construction sector,” said Hassani.

He said the slowdown in government projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway had affected cement sales. Hassani, however, said they are upbeat about 2020 due to the removal of the interest rate caps, which means more people can now access credit to build houses.  

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