Preparations at textile firm Rivatex East Africa Limited are in top gear ahead of the commissioning of the ultra-modern facility by President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday.
When Daily Nation visited the facility on Thursday, it was a bee-hive of activities as dozens of workers made last minute preparations.
Rivatex Managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat said that they are ready to host the head of State on Friday.
“We are very excited to having the President visiting our facility. All preparations have been made to host the President who will be coming tomorrow,” Prof said on Thursday.
The Rivatex MD noted that with modernisation, the firm is expected to increase cotton consumption from 10,000 bales per day against a projected capacity of 100,000, translating to a daily production rate of 40,000 metres, up from the previous 5,000.
“Historically, Rivatex is known for making high-end products like police, military and African attire and we want to bring it back to that glory. We want to also reduce the issue of second hand clothes (mitumba) since we will increase efficiency from 30 percent to 90 percent,” said the MD.
He added that over 500,000 people will be employed directly and indirectly in the value chain with the factory expected to employ 5,000 Kenyans.
Prof Kipkurgat added that they will be requesting the President to support further expansion of the factory especially the tailoring unit as well as the commercialization of the BT cotton to enable the firm get the raw materials.
“We will be appealing to the president to address the issue of BT cotton. As we know, we don’t have certified BT cotton seeds in the market which means we are recycling the conventional seeds and that means low productivity.
The MD said the factory, which is owned by Moi University, is targeting the Agoa market through the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) as well as markets in East Africa and other parts of the continent.
Moi University Council Chairman Jeremiah Ntoloi said Rivatex will make premium products such as suits and uniforms for the police and military following the upgrade.
“We are very pleased to host President Kenyatta tomorrow who will be here to inaugurate this ultra-modern facility. In past years, the government has pumped a lot of money to a tune of Sh4.8 billion to revamp weaving and processing units,” he said.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
“This will enable us to make premium products. Previously we have only been making lesos but this will change in the coming months. This is part of the Big Four agenda of government on manufacturing,” Dr Ntoloi added.
Last year, Rivatex secured a Sh3 billion loan from the Indian government and an additional Sh3 billion from the Treasury to replace its obsolete machines.
In the 2019-2020 budget, the firm was allocated Sh1.1 billion.
The textile firm has been using free conventional seeds and free pesticides to woo cotton farmers who abandoned the crop when the textiles industry collapsed in the 2000s.