New cement factory to be built in KKS in 2022
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
A Cabinet Paper to clear the 725 acres of the defunct Kankesanthurai (KKS) Cement Factory and calling the military to vacate the 185 acres of the land they occupy on the premises has been approved. Chairman of Sri Lanka Cement Corporation Gamini Ekanayake said after the Cabinet Paper was approved on 8 February this year, work had begun to clear over 100 buildings and remove old machinery to be sold after calling tender. He said although the military was not told to vacate the place officially, they would be vacating when the new KKS cement factory is being constructed on the premises at the beginning of 2022.
The premises owned by both the Sri Lanka Cement Corporation and the Lanka Cement PLC are being cleared with the support of the military, he added. “We are cleaning the premises and separating buildings that can be used from the ones that are highly damaged. We are also in the process of taking the good machines for use and removing those that cannot be used. We will sell those scrap materials by calling tender,” he said. According to him, to restart the cement factory they may also call for an international investor or may be combine with a local.
The KKS Ceylon Cement Corporation that was established in the 1950s was a single industry that earned remarkable revenue for Sri Lanka and with that revenue the then governments were able to launch two cement factories in Puttalam as well as in Ruhuna. However, with the war, the KKS cement factory collapsed letting the Military to occupy some of the buildings from 1990 onwards during the war. During former trade minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s tenure it was planned to share the land area between the Army, Navy and Police and Sri Lanka Ports Authority and settle some of the internally displaced persons. That Cabinet Paper also mentioned having some portion of the land to start an eco-friendly industrial zone.
During that time, many of the machines of the KKS were stolen and sold leaving few items. But the current chairman Ekanayake refused to sign the proposed plan of the former government. Under the incumbent Government, a five-member Committee was appointed and they had tabled several ideas on what can be done with the KKS cement factory. “I visited the factory premises and the committee decided to study whether we could remove limestone from many of the quarries or to import cement from countries like in India, Pakistan, Indonesia Malaysia and re-pack them to sell in Sri Lanka.
We also thought of importing clinker and grinding it and sell.” This, he said, would need over USD 200million investment and the process is big. As the Puttalam and Ruhuna Cement factories were sold to private parties in the ‘70s, today there is no State-run cement factory, he added.