Alarm as Voi Gemstone value addition centre remains non operational

The Voi Gemstone Value addition centre which is yet to be opened PHOTO COURTESY

Leaders from Taita Taveta and Makueni counties have raised alarm over the Voi Gemstone Value addition center which is yet to start operations.

The center which is the first of its kind in Kenya was supposed to start operations in May 2017.

However, no communication on when the center will commence operations has been made since them.

Speaking in Voi on Monday, the Taita Taveta deputy governor Mjala Mlagui and the Makueni deputy governor Dr Wathe Nzau said the delay was delaying the formalization of the gemstone industry in Kenya.

“There is a need for the Voi Gemstone Value Addition Center be officially opened so that people across the 47 Counties and others from abroad can visit to buy or sell their said  Mr.Wathe.

The facility if opened will facilitate the value addition of minerals through processes such as cutting, polishing and packaging before sale hence making them more pricy.

The center is meant to serve the Coast region. However the former mining CS Dan Kazungu had said that other facilities would soon be opened in West Pokot, Samburu and Baringo counties in a bid to streamline the sector.

The two leaders have written to the government through the Ministry of mining, petroleum and natural gases requesting them to quickly reopen the facility.

Gemstones such as the Green garnets, emeralds, sapphire, and ruby are found in Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kitui, Baringo and Machakos counties.

However, the lack of formalization of the market has constantly seen the gemstones sold in informal markets at low prices.