Kilifi residents want cashew plant reopened
Kilifi residents yesterday held protests demanding the revival of the cashew nut industry.
They demanded the revocation of a 999-year lease of 350 hectares to an investor who is manufacturing tar instead of processing cashew nuts.
The dormant Kenya Cashew Nuts Ltd factory is on the land in Kilifi town.
The investor goes by the name Millennium Management Ltd.
Residents marched to the factory to issue a 14-day ultimatum to the investor to leave.
They asked him to hand over the factory to them or they will forcibly take it.
They told the investor to seek compensation from the national government and leave.
They claim the investor is not processing cashew nuts but instead turned the factory into a tar manufacturing plant.
They say tar manufacture does not offer them employment opportunities.
Led by the Kibaoni Ward Progressive Association founder Hamisi Bwalema, the residents accused the investor of frustrating residents.
The residents urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to allocate funds to revive the industry the same way he did for Mumias Sugar Company.
Bwalema said the cashew nut industry collapsed in 1995 and the factory was leased to the investor in 2003 for 999 years.
He said: “How can one lease land for such a long period while under the new constitution, it’s supposed to be 99 years?”
Bwalema said residents were evicted to pave way for the development of the cashew nut industry but the government has failed to revive it.
Karisa Konde, a resident, said the industry’s collapse has led to increased poverty.
“The investor should reclaim his money from the person he gave it to,’’ he said.
The cashew nut factory was built in 1975 and used to employ 4,000 residents.