The government has pledged a Sh200 million grant to support Kitui County expand the capacity of its new garment making factory.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i made the announcement Thursday when he toured the Kitui County Textiles Centre (Kicotec) to assess its prepared-ness and capacity to manufacture uniforms for chiefs and their assistants as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta recently.
Dr Matiang’i said the money will boost the factory’s capacity to produce more items and stop overreliance on imported textiles in line with President Kenyatta’s fourth pillar of the Big Four agenda – manufacturing.
“There is no point in using public resources to support other economies by importing things we can make here. I am very impressed by this textile factory that builds our own economy and uplifts our own people,” Dr Matiang’i said.
The CS, who was accompanied by his Health counterpart Cecily Kariuki, said the government is keen to support such initiatives that create jobs for the youth while boosting the manufacturing sector.
The two ministers were shown how uniforms for secondary schools roll off the machines at Kicotec, with a label bearing three proud words –“Made in Kitui”.
“We must build our country by buying our locally manufactured products and that’s why we will support Kitui County to expand its garment factory besides giving it government business to make chiefs’ uniforms,” Dr Matiang’i said.
He reiterated the president’s directive that uniforms for national administration officers including those of thousands of chiefs and their assistants will be made at the Kitui factory, saying the modalities of the deal are being finalised.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said the Sh200 million grant is enough to set up another textiles factory in either Mutomo or Mwingi towns and create more than 600 direct jobs for young people in the county.
“We spent Sh168 million to establish Kicotec including buying the various sewing machines, building the structures and training the recruited staff. The grant can help us establish a similar textiles centre elsewhere” Mrs Ngilu said.
She thanked President Kenyatta for the support, saying his directive to have uniforms for members of national government administration manufactured in Kitui was a stamp of approval for her initiative - the first one by a county government.
Governor Ngilu said the purpose of establishing the factory was not only to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs but also to retain the more than Sh2.5 billion that parents in Kitui County spend buying school uniforms from manufactures in Nairobi and other counties.
This, she said, is in line with the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four agenda.
“We just began this year and we have already proved that we can do it. In future, we will be bidding to manufacture massive quantities of uniforms for prisoners as well as for prison warders,” Mrs Ngilu told journalists at the factory.
She said her county is eager to deliver quality fabrics for the administrators in or-der to win the confidence of the national government and other prospective clients.
Other than the chiefs’ uniforms, Governor Ngilu discussed with the two cabinet secretaries the possibility of manufacturing garments and bedding for referral hospitals.
In October last year, Kitui County scored a first in the country after it established the state-of-art garment factory to manufacture textiles for the local and export market.
The factory, which has 145 modern electric sewing machines installed together with other embroidery and pressing machinery, is modelled like the Export Pro-cessing Zone (EPZ) garment unit and can run for 24 hours on different working shifts.
“At full capacity, the fabrics factory will run 24 hours employing more than 600 young people who were jobless. Each of the 600 young people will earn a living here and build the Kitui economy,” the governor said.
The governor said that other than school uniforms, demand for fabrics including hospital and hotel bedding, staff clothing for counties, some of which are being imported from Asian countries, are more than enough to sustain the new factory.
She explained that with the estimated 486,000 students in both primary and secondary schools, the factory will ensure the county retains more than Sh2 billion every year, therefore stimulating the local economy.