A cloud of smoke on Tuesday spewed out of Pan Paper Mills in Webuye, signalling the end of a two-year closure of the factory.
Hundreds of workers and businesses who had gathered for the reopening broke into song and dance as the machines roared to life.
National Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch chairman Herman Kasili said business for companies that depended on the paper company suffered during its closure.
Mr Kasili said the revival would give workers and businesses, which depend on the factory, a new lease of life.
“We expect a boom in business. We expect our lives will be back on track after many years of struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Journalists were taken around the factory where three out of the four mills are working. Managing director Joseph Muliaro said more than 1,000 workers had been rehired.
He said more employees would be re-employed as production increased. Before the paper mill’s closure, it employed 1,500 permanent workers and 600 casuals.
Dr Muliaro announced that there was enough raw materials in the form of waste paper and wood to keep the company running for two years.
The factory has been allocated 300,000 cubic metres of forest by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.
“Now that we have not been crushing for two years, we have enough logs and waste paper to run the mill,” he said.
Dr Muliaro said the three main machines currently running were producing 80 tonnes of paper daily.
He said the factory has the capacity to produce 120,000 tonnes of various grades of paper a year. The current capacity is, however, 80,000 tonnes a year, he added.
The factory needs 560 tonnes of pulp wood daily, 85 tonnes of waste paper, 25,000 litres of furnace oil and other chemicals like starch and soda ash, to run at full capacity.
Dr Muliaro said the factory would take advantage of the current shortage of paper in the country to remain afloat.
The MD said that in the four days the factory had been running trial runs, 600 tonnes of paper worth Sh42 million had been produced.
“All mechanical and logistical issues for the revival have been adequately addressed,” he said.
The company management said that a mill that had been vandalised would be repaired and be up and running by next month.
Orders for spares
“We have placed orders for spares to repair the digital and central control systems for running the machine,” he said.
Dr Muliaro added that there was demand for locally produced paper as the cost of imports is now too high.
The managing director pointed out that locally produced paper was the cheapest in the market.