Naivasha special economic zone attracts investors' interests


Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority officials offload cargo from the SGR train to the Meter Gauge Railway cargo train at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Mai Mahiu Naivasha for onwards transportation to Malaba. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The development of the multi-billion-shilling Naivasha special economic zone will start in three months, a Nakuru County government official has said.

Close to 100 investors have expressed interest in the 50-acre plot located near the Inland Container Depot in Mai Mahiu.

Among major projects expected on the land and around the 10km buffer zone include banks, hotels, housing estates, petrol stations, and hotels to be served by the Standard Gauge Railway.

Two years ago the national government hived 50 acres from the original 1,000 acres set for an industrial park and donated it to the county for small and medium enterprises.

Lands chief officer Judyleah Waihenya said 77 investors have been cleared ahead of the works expected to boost business in the semi-arid area.

Speaking during a public participation forum, Waihenya said they expect the county assembly to pass the proposed plan for the economic zone in three months.

“Tens of investors have expressed their interest in investing and we have picked 77 as we wait for approval from the assembly,” she said.

To prepare a master plan, the county has banned any sub-division of land or development around the 10km buffer zone.

“Already the Inland Container Depot is operational and the county and national government are planning for water, electricity, housing, and waste management processes,” she said.

Waihenya however expressed concern over some land buying companies which didn’t finish the titling of land, leading to an ownership crisis among the members.

“Some pieces of land bordering the special economic zone have not been sub-divided, creating another crisis, but we are working with the Lands Department to address this,” she said.

Mai Mahiu community chairman John Kihiko was full of praise for the project, saying it will create business opportunities and employment for hundreds of area youths.

“Once the works start, we want part of the water supplied to our homes, youths to benefit from the manual work opportunities and the issues of a stadium and market addressed,” he said.

Pastoralist Peter ole Kishau from the nearby village of Namcha called on the county to ensure the issue of waste management and issuance of title deeds are fully addressed.

“We expect many factories here and pollution could be a major challenge for pastoralists. We want it addressed before the projects start,” he said.