Sh17 billion leather park to boost herders, hides traders

By STANLEY NGOTHO, Buiness Daily

Herders and hides traders in the country are poised to benefit from the Sh17 billion Athi River leather park, Machakos County, set to be launched in August by President Kenyatta.

The mega project sitting on 500-acre land that includes 14 tanneries and an effluent treatment plant is currently at an advanced stage with 12 modern stalls expected to be completed in the next two months.

The effluent treatment is a major facet of the modern leather park considering high volumes of liquid waste expected to be discharged from the tanneries.

The national government-funded project is under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, through Kenya Leather Development Council and the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) as implementing agencies.

Addressing journalists after a tour of the leather park yesterday, EPZA board chairman Paul Gicheru said the project is almost complete attracting both local and international investors.

He said the structures are complete and machines are installed to ensure investors move in within the stipulated time frame.

The project is expected to create more than 50,000 direct jobs for Kenyans in the first phase.

The project is poised to be a major economic boost attracting investors who will create employment.

The Kenya Leather Park will be the major employer in the region. Currently, EPZ in Athi River employs 17,000.

Mr Gicheru said with an expected production capacity of 150 tonnes of raw hides daily and manufacturing units with a production capacity of 10,000 pairs of shoes daily, herders will have a ready market of hides that usually go into waste.

“Our herders and small and medium scale hide traders will have a ready market.

“Hides will be bought at competitive rates to ensure locals reap the benefits of this mega venture,” said Mr Gicheru.

Herders in neighbouring Kajiado County say they used to sell a mature cowhide at Sh2,000 and a sheepskin used to fetch them between Sh500 and Sh1,000, but currently “they can’t fetch a coin”.