By Elijah Odhiambo
The Tanners Association of Kenya have decried high cost of doing business that has paralysed operations of leather industries in the country, seeking government intervention to help save the situation.
According to the association, over eight tanneries have shut their operations in the country in the last seven years due to high cost of doing business and lack of appropriate government policies to streamline the leather Industry.
Speaking during an interview, the chairman of the Tanners Association of Kenya, Robert Njoka blamed poor legal and policy measures for the closure of the tanneries.
He also cited that the increasing value of dollar which has soared to about 100 has adversely affected the industry.
“Much of the chemicals we use, we bought them, so you find with the dollar going to about 100 and something, also the cost will be going up for production which will be a challenge to put the product in the market,” Robert said.
Since 2016, Kenyan leather Industry has encountered challenges threatening its existence. The problems bedeviling the sector for the last seven years has seen eight tanneries closed down.
The tanneries that have been shut down include;
- Leathers Industry of Kenya,
- Athi River Tanneries,
- New Market Leather,
- Nairobi Tanneries,
- Amin Tanneries,
- Samitex Tanneries
- Msai Tanneries.
The closure of the tanneries and the reduced existence of the existing ones have led to huge loss of job opportunities.
Over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs have been lost as a result of the shutdown.
Livestock farmers in the country have also been blamed for the mess which has led to reduction in the quality of leather products.
“70 percent of the defects of quality we are talking about, it is man-made defect, you can collect natural defect but you can’t collect man-made defects, you can’t reverse,” the chairman said.
Robert highlighted the need to have more people trained in abattoirs to help rescue the leather Industry.
“We need more people to be trained in abattoirs as we look forward to the ministry of agriculture improving the sizes of animals and improving animal husbandry”, said Nzioka.
The association also blame over reliance on exports of semi-processed leather products as another threat facing the sector. According to the association the exports have reduced from 7.5 billion in 2013 to 3 billion in 2019.
Early this year, the tanners’ association chairman pleaded with the government to come up with the right policies to address issues stalling the growth of the leather Industry.
He said there are at least four key policies that need to be finalized to make the industry vibrant.
“Industry complaints to KRA are not addressed in time and stocks are held at the port waiting for testing,” Robert said.
He also noted concerns over delays in clearing chemicals needed by the industry, with players incurring heavy storage charges while forced to stop operations.