It is a relief for road construction companies within Mt. Kenya Region and its environs after an investor put up an asphalt concrete plant in Embu County that began operations on Tuesday. Contractors in the region have for long been struggling to access the commodity mainly from Nairobi due to its unavailability locally, thus incurring high transport expenses that increase cost of doing business. Asphalt concrete commonly known as tarmac is a composite material commonly known as blacktop used in construction of roads, highways, airports among others. ‘The idea to put up an asphalt concrete mixing plant here was informed by the need to bridge the gap in construction value chain in terms of bringing the commodity at close proximity to local contractors,’ said the Proprietor Ken Mwaniki. Speaking while commissioning the plant dubbed ‘Eagle 1 Concrete and Machineries Ltd.’ at Kangaru Sub-location in Embu West Sub-county, the young investor said the plant will go a long way in reducing the amount of time spent to procure the commodity from afar. ‘By setting up such a plant in Embu, we are going to increase efficiency given that transport is a critical component in construction,’ he said. He said the turnaround time between mixing of the parts, heating prior to transportation, placement and compaction was crucial in determining the stiffness and strength of the road as it must be applied at the right temperature. The investor who also runs two stone crushers in Ugweri and Ishiara that provide ballast which is one of the raw materials in processing asphalt concrete, said the plant will also create more employment opportunities for the locals especially the youth. He noted so far the three plants, two crushers and asphalt concrete, have provided employment to 500 locals who are now able to put a meal on the table at the end of the day. Mwaniki also revealed plans to commission a batching plant where concrete will be mixed before being transported to a construction site ready to be poured. The company Sales Manager Paul Gatimu said the plant has also been a training ground for students in TVET institutions who have been able to acquire hands-on skills on how to use and operate plant machinery and equipment. ‘We offer internship training to students in TVET colleges to equip them with skills that will enable them to be self-reliant. Some of the youths who have already secured employment could not hide their joy for the opportunity accorded to acquire skills in construction works as well as earn a living. ‘Besides earning, my capacity has been built in terms of gaining skills and experience in the construction industry that has also improved my resume,’ said Jackline Nyaga, an employee.
Source: Kenya News Agency