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Transfer of multi-million leather tannery from Kisumu to Narok opposed

The Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDI) has opposed a transfer of multi-million leather tanning equipment from its Kisumu branch to Narok following a request placed by the Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority (ENSD).

KIRDI Director General (DG) Calvin Onyango confirmed receipt of the transfer note through the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, adding that the agency was working on a response to explain why the equipment cannot be moved.

Onyango said the equipment was actively in use in Kisumu, serving the lake region counties, and its transfer would deal a blow to the numerous Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) using it.

The notion that the equipment was being underutilized, he added, was not true, saying five SMEs were currently being incubated at the center in Kisumu, adding value to skins and leather to produce different products.

“We also have a leather goods unit here, which is used to produce different leather products like shoes, belts, and bags,” he said.

Addressing the media at the Kisumu KIRDI center along Kibos Road, Onyango said the agency’s senior management was preparing a response to the request to advise the Principal Secretary (PS), State Department for Trade and Industry, and Cabinet Secretary (CS) against the move.

The Sh. 600 million tannery is the largest in the country and was installed in Kisumu in 2016 as a Vision 2030 project to help resuscitate the leather industry in the Western region.

Onyango said the KIRDI Board of Management has been briefed on the matter, assuring residents of Kisumu and Lake Region counties dependent on the facility that the equipment will not be moved.

“The equipment we have here was procured to support the people of Kisumu and the Lake Region Economic Bloc. Therefore it is not going to be taken away,” he said.

He asked county governments in the lake region to take advantage of the facility to add value to hides and skins to help rejuvenate the sector.

KIRDI, he said, was in talks with county governments in the area to explore new opportunities to maximise the usage of the equipment.

Kisumu County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in Charge of Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock, and Fisheries Kenneth Onyango said the decision to relocate the facility was a big concern to area residents.

KIRDI, he said, has been very instrumental in incubating and building capacity for SMEs in the area, adding that the transfer of the equipment would deal a big blow to ongoing projects.

“I am happy the DG has assured us that the equipment is here to stay; now I want to call upon our people to use this institution as a talent development center in many fields,” he said.

The Kisumu County Government, he added, will support the center to ensure that the facility remains operational.

By Chris Mahandara

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