West Pokot residents complain that the Sh12 billion cement plant project has taken long to start.
Residents of West Pokot County have decried the delayed building of a planned cement factory in Sebit.
They now want the investor who is supposed to construct the plant to speed up the work or give room to another willing investor.
They complained that the Sh12 billion project has taken long to start and wondered why the investor promised to build it in the first place.
They said the investor has been promising to start construction of the plant since 2010 but he has never showed up.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that the investor has started building some houses at the site along the busy Kitale-Lodwar highway.
Residents said that they are languishing in poverty after they sold their lands at throw-away prices.
The project is projected to offer over 3,000 job opportunities to many jobless youth in the county .
Once complete, the factory will help stimulate other projects in various sectors like roads, health, water and education since 25 percent of the profits earned yearly will remain in the county.
Residents who were interviewed by Nation said local entrepreneurs set base at Sebit trading centre after the commissioning of the project and put up business premises and rental houses targeting workers expected to be employed at the factory.
“The business people expected their investments to improve and the entire economy of the county to grow, but only to discover that things were not as expected and people have lost hope,” said Thomas Lireng, a businessman at Sebit trading centre.
They now accuse the government s and their leaders for keeping quiet on the matter, yet they had promised that the work was to commence immediately the project was commissioned.
“Our county government, members of parliament and MCAs have never shown any signs of commitment in seeing that the work starts and nobody has come to us to explain why the construction has not started,” said Mzee Koringura from Ortum.
They have called on the national government to explain to them the cause of the delay.
Accusations and counter-accusations have in the past emerged among local leaders over awarding of the tender to set up the cement factory.
Former Governor Simon Kachapin toured India during his tenure in office and held discussions with Cemtech on establishment of the factory.
“We had constructive talks with the investor and he is ready to start the job anytime,” said Mr Kachapin in an earlier interview after signing the contract with the firm.
Led by Tecla Kaston, the residents now say that they are ready to take back their land if the investor will not begin the construction soon.
“We shall take our lands back if he is not ready for the job. The investor has been promising (to start the project) several times. If the investor doesn’t show up let him go and we will look for a new investor who will be willing to construct the plant. We want him to come and start the construction,” said Kaston.
Cemtech Sanghi Group bought 650 acres of freehold land in Pokot at a cost of Sh120 million for the project site.
Mr Augustine Loria observed that the factory can use limestone in the area for many years.
“Locals have been complaining for a long time but all in vain. We have been waiting for many years for the factory to start so as to offer them employment opportunities. Many factories have been constructed in areas like Athi River and Thika but [there has been] nothing for the Pokot,” said Mr Loria.