New face of Salgaa: From black spot to top industrial, commercial hub

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the opening of a new cement factory at Salgaa, the latest in a string of manufacturers to set camp there. [Mt Kenya Star]

For decades, the infamous Salgaa stretch along the Nakuru-Kisumu-Eldoret Highway has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has been a notorious black spot that has claimed thousands of lives for years.

Today, the once vast maize and wheat plantations are a host to several industries including Royal Group Industries, National Cement Company, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Limited, and Ganglong International, a Chinese company that majors in roofing materials.

 The ‘jinxed’ hitherto black spot now appears exorcised and breaking from its tarnished reputation following an announcement by Governor Lee Kinyanjui that 12 more local and multi-national firms had declared their intention to set shop in the area.

The latest entrant is the National Cement a subsidiary of Devki Group, put up at a cost of over Sh2 billion which will offer employment to over 700 people directly and a further 3,000 indirectly.

With its agricultural hinterland, Nakuru County is a major source of raw materials for industries. Geographically, the town is centrally located in relation to the rest of the country and is, therefore, more accessible,” said Governor Kinyanjui. This will be the first time the devolved unit will be hosting a cement manufacturing concern.

“For many years Salgaa has been known for its infamous black spots that have claimed hundreds of lives through road carnage. With the expected economic empowerment, we are looking forward to great change among the people,” offered the governor.

Governor Kinyanjui indicated that once the 12 firms add to the already established manufacturing entities at Salgaa, more than 20,000 jobs will be created directly.

“The location of Salgaa, land availability and development patterns are among the factors that have attracted investors here.

We have been working with other agencies in both the National and County governments and the private sector to facilitate potential investors through the establishment of a one-stop desk where they are issued with all the required documentation. We have in place deliberate and predictable policy interventions,” he stated.

Kinyanjui said the continued improvement of road infrastructure including construction of two interchanges along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret and the proposed SGR line to Naivasha will ease transportation to and from the County, which he said is vital for industrialization. Last year, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Limited pumped into the county Sh3 billion in its newest factory a few kilometers from Salgaa Trading Center.

The Company’s National Sales Manager, Rajesh Mishra, said the Company was producing three milk variants; full cream, whole milk, and low-fat milk and different juices.

Apart from providing employment to hundreds of youths, the plant has provided a market for milk from local dairy farmers who are yet to meet its demand. Among the manufacturing concerns that have seized the opportunity to set shop at Salgaa include Royal Group Industries which in 2018 pumped Sh800 million in a steel factory whose construction is ongoing at a 22-acre piece of land.

The Company’s Director, Yusuf Hassanali, said the project is targeting to offer employment opportunities and market its products within Rift Valley and Western Kenya regions. “We settled for Nakuru as it is centrally located. Most steel and iron sheet manufacturers are domiciled in Nairobi and Mombasa. We want to fill the void that has been there in western parts of the country,” said Hassanali.