, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – The East African Portland Cement Company’s (EAPCC) new chairman Bill Lay has said his immediate task will be to clear the politically charged environment which has rocked the company in recent years.
Lay who formally took over on Friday after the High Court on Thursday dismissed former Chairman Mark Karbolo’s suit to block the appointment, said the cement manufacturer’s operations had been greatly hampered by internal politics in the recent past.
He said the management of the company had been distracted by the politics and his first immediate job will be to get the management’s focus back to the core business.
“My impression is that the company has been distracted from its core business which is to produce and sell cement, there are side shows that have been amplified but I’m going to try to ignore those and start with a clean slate, because this is a business. If you can simplify your life and look at the basics of the business, motivate employees and develop new markets this company will be on a different level very shortly,” Lay said.
He plans to hold a meeting with the board members next week in a bid to pull them in the same direction.
“My first work will also involve holding a board meeting sometime next week, validate that everyone is pulling in the same direction and deal with the sideshows that come up in a way that does not distract the company’s objectives,” he said.
On his part EAPCC Managing Director Kephar Tande welcomed Lay into the company pointing out that he comes at a time when the company is working on its five-year expansion plans.
“We have many plans in the future for this company and with a stable management we will accomplish our plans,” he stated.
He said the company has lost 13 percent of its market share to competition.
“In the past three years we have lost market share from 32 percent to 21 percent to competition as well as time wasted on politics in the company,” he said, adding that the company had invested about Sh3 billion to facilitate its expansion plans that include exporting to Tanzania.
“We have already identified a potential partner in Arusha and by June this year we will be exporting to the Tanzania market,” he said.
He said the company is working on improving the efficiency of their factory in Athi River by introducing a new packer, cooler and cranes in the factory.
The company is also looking into opening a new factory in Kajiado County by 2017.
The company also plans to position itself with the ongoing infrastructure projects in the country that include the standard gauge railway.
The government has been in a row with the French company Lafarge that has 41.7 percent stake in EAPCC (and also owns 58.9 percent stake of competitor Bamburi Cement) over the control of the company with the government accusing Lafarge of seeking to damage the cement company in favour of Bamburi.
The Treasury and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) jointly own 52 percent of the firm.