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We rarely get orders these days as we used to, says a family of blacksmiths

ENTERPRISE
By Gerald Mutethia | June 22nd 2021
Blacksmith Jediel Kimathi at his workshop opposite Meru Sewer at Gakoromone market in Meru town. June 14, 2021. [Courtesy]

A blacksmith in Meru has for many years relied on making and repairing iron items to make a living.

Jediel Kimathi, 53, operates a shop at Gekoromone market where they make jembes, crowbars, mattocks, hooks, hinges and door handles from scrap metal.

A jembe goes for Sh600 and an axe is sold at Sh200.

Business used to be good for Kimathi who said he had many wholesale shops to sell his wares to. Not anymore. New technology and Covid-19 are turning the family business upside down.

He said they are facing stiff competition from metal fabrication shops that make better tools using modern technology, and in large quantities. These products are also of superior quality and are much cheaper.

"We are faced with serious competition from locally produced as well as imported tools. This, combined with Covid-19, has considerably affected our earnings," said Kimathi who works with members of his family after training them on the craft.

Besides their shop are dozens of fabrication workshops practising modern metal works. Kimathi said he has been forced to hawk the wares using his motorbike.

He said they would sell their products both in retail and wholesale.

"Modern technology has left us with fewer customers most of whom buy our products at throw-away prices."

Kimathi said they are also finding it hard to get raw materials and their production has been affected. He said they are now relying on used car springs, which they melt before shaping them into various items.

“I learnt this craft in Nanyuki before I moved to Meru in 2003 and established my workshop. We rarely get orders these days as we used to," said Kimathi, who added that he is not ready to close his workshop despite the dwindling fortunes.

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