Kenya: Nakuru Firms Rise to Virus Challenge With Mask Production

Two Nakuru-based garment factories have joined the fray and gone into full-time mass production of face masks in a bid to support the war against Covid-19.

This comes as the government intensifies its war against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Bedi Investments Limited, located in Nakuru Town, and Trendy Links Limited based in Bahati Sub-county have been turned into 24-hour production houses where at least 80,000 masks are being produced in a day.

According to Nakuru County Executive for Trade and Industry Raymond Komen, Bedi garment factory -- which was last year involved in the production of the new police uniforms -- is now producing at least 60,000 face masks whereas Trendy Links can generate up to 10,000.

"The factories have joined the government's efforts to combat coronavirus. The demand for masks has increased and we are making efforts to scale up production per day to feed the region," said Mr Komen.

Trendy Links Limited managing Director Esther Kimani in an interview with the Nation revealed that the factory that started four years ago has the capacity to generate up to 400,000 masks in a day.

"We started the stitching plant four years ago and we have been producing school uniforms, industrial fabrics among other fabrics. Before the outbreak of Covid-19, we have been supplying uniforms in large numbers to the Kenya Scouts. Currently, we have engaged over 400 employees in the mass production of masks and other Personal Protective gear," she said.

"To aid in the war against Covid-19, we are also producing hand sanitisers and fumigation liquids. We have taken our samples to the Kenya Bureau of Standards for certification and we shall receive the verdict," revealed Ms Kimani.

She told the Nation that those who have placed large orders for the masks include county governments, NGOs, corporate entities and private hospitals.

After production, the masks are neatly arranged in labelled boxes each carrying at least 50 pieces. A box is sold out at Sh4,000.

However, the firm also gives free masks to members of the public including local boda boda riders and Matatu crew.

"This group of people are our first target (for free masks) because they interact with so many people. We are putting every effort to ensure we minimise the risks of spreading the virus," added Ms Kimani.

The two factories have now joined several others countrywide that are involved in the production of masks in masses.

Others include Kitui County Textile Centre, (Kicotec), Alpha Knits Limited(Ruiru), Chalange Industries (Nairobi),Ken-Knit (Kenya) Ltd-Eldoret, Rivatex (East Afric-Eldoret), Spinners & Spinners (Ruiru), Sunflag Textiles, Knitwear(Nairobi), Supra Textiles (Nairobi) and Thika Cloth Mills.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui in an interview with the Nation said the local factories had the capacity to feed the region with masks and other PPEs.

"We are proud of local companies producing the masks and other PPEs. To protect and fully exploit the textile sector potential, we support and promote local industries by offering them a conducive business environment. As a country we are also keen to increase the share of business flowing to local textile industries," said Mr Kinyanjui.

Bedi Investments, owned by the Jas Bedi family, employs at least 1,000 youth at its Nakuru factory. It also has expanded its business to Nairobi and other parts in the country.

The firm has been producing uniforms for police and the National Youth Service (NYS).

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