The implementation of a multibillion-shilling industrial park project meant to transform the North Rift region into a major commercial hub, which is far from ready, might delay further due to lack of water and poor road connectivity.
Businessman David Lagat called for the government’s intervention to prevent more interruptions of the Sh200 billion Africa Economic Zones Limited (AEZ) project, which was recently revived after years of delays due to lack of regulatory approvals.
The investment, meant to develop and operate the first private Special Economic Zone in the region, was launched almost five years ago at Plateau area, some 40 kilometres from Eldoret town, in Uasin Gishu County. It was founded by Mr Lagat, chairman of the DL Group of Companies.
“We have a challenge with the road which is about three kilometres. The President in 2019, when he visited Rivatex, ordered that the work (on the road) to commence immediately but two years later nothing has happened,” he lamented while speaking to Business Daily.
“We are also facing a water shortage. There is no water at the site and any industry coming up must have water. Power was another challenge but we have resolved it,” he said.
The work at the park had been halted by delayed certifications by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and Kenya Power, which have since been granted.
Mr Lagat said two solar projects, with an output of 94 megawatts, under the investment, have been connected to the national grid.
The project will be undertaken in three phases, with the first dubbed AEZ Pearl River sitting on a 700-acre site and targeting agro-processing, energy, machinery, engineering, construction, electronic, ICT, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
“Phase one, which is building the special economic zone, had faced government policy hurdles but it has since been cleared by the Kenya Revenue Authority through giving us some exceptions,” he said.
Phase two consists of a science and technology hub on an 86-acre piece of land, and in addition to an IT hub will also host a convention centre, administrative, residential, recreational and green zones.
The third phase sitting on 1,000 acres will comprise a recreational zone with a stadium and golf range, and a residential zone of three- and four-bedroom units.
“We are going to have incubation centres to train the youth as they work with universities around,” he said.
Chinese firm Guangdong New South Group, which is supervising the construction of the park, is expected to build an Olympia City on 1,000 acres in phase three of the project.
Mr Lagat disclosed that they expect the project to be completed in the next five to 10 years.