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New cement firm has grand plans for Pokot

By | July 1st 2009

By Osinde Obare

A leading cement maker from India plans to transform the economy of Pokot Central District, once its new factory is completed. The Cemtech Sanghi Group has received full approval from the Government to build an $80 million (Sh6.24 billion) cement factory to mine the large limestone deposits in Sebit and Ortum areas of the district. The Ortum factory will become the third largest in Kenya, after the Mombasa-based Bamburi and East African Portland Cement factory at Athi River. "We will have the capacity of producing enough cement for local consumption in Western Kenya and other parts of the country," said Mr Jaresh Rawal of Cemtech Limited.

Annual Production

The factory will have a capacity of 600,000 to one million tonnes of cement annually, and will employ 700 Kenyans directly and another 1,000 indirectly when it begins operations. Documents availed to The Standard show Cemtech planning to build a school and medical centre for the community living in the area, and provide them with free water. Rawal said construction of the factory would also improve the infra-structure in the area, as the road network would have to be upgraded. Discussions are underway on the possibility of upgrading the railway line from Marich Pass to Kabarnet and Nakuru.

Cemtech also plans to transfer technology to the area, by building wind and solar power plants, to supplement its energy sources. Extra power generated, will be available for use by the community. Central Pokot District Commissioner Joseph Were told The Standard 5,000 families would benefit from the factory. Construction work for the main factory at Sebit will commence this month, and the plant could be operational by mid 2010. "The Government agreed terms with Cemtech Limited from India to construct the plant, because their proposal would benefit the local community," said Were.

A feasibility study by the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) shows limestone deposits in Ortum and its surroundings can sustain the factory for over a century.

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