Groundbreaking new operation at Coega

Jerome Perils at the Kenako Concrete plant
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

State-of-the-art R71m concrete plant notches up several firsts

Jerome Perils, the first black industrialist in Port Elizabeth to be funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has started overseeing a new R71-million investment into the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) – and it is rock solid.

Kenako Concrete managing director Perils, 47, yesterday showed the media the state-of-the-art concrete manufacturing facility which can churn out six cubic metres of concrete in just four minutes and 150m³ in an hour.

Construction for South Africa’s first and only completely black-owned ready-mix concrete manufacturer started in April, with the plant – well situated near the Coega quarry – starting production on September 1.

Speaking next to the highly automated plant which was imported from Italy, Perils said that after more than two decades in the concrete industry he had decided to go it alone.

“The project as a whole is a year and a half in the making,” he said.

“It was not easy, and there was a lot of hard work, but I managed to get onto the DTI’s Black Industrialist Programme, and the DTI and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), along with the Treasury, are now the funders of this project.

“It is very satisfying to see the plant up and running.”

Perils described the operation as a ready-mix concrete production facility which can also produce retarded mortar, plaster and topping.

The aggregate, which includes sand and stone, is deposited into bins in the plant which then weigh the correct type and amount of material needed, according to the type of concrete sought.

The aggregate is then sent to a mixing machine and concrete dispenser via a conveyor belt, where water and chemicals are added.

Setting the system apart from others, according to Perils, is that the concrete is mixed on site before being dispatched to construction sites in specialised trucks.

In other operations, the concrete was mixed in trucks en route to their destinations, he said.

“Not only is this a faster production method but the distance from the production facility to the site does not make any difference as the concrete is already prepared,” he said.

Perils pointed out that the facility was a “green” operation, with the water used to clean its trucks being recycled back into the plant for concrete manufacturing.

“We can operate within a 140km radius of the plant and can service all concrete needs, from residential to civils,” he said.

“Naturally, as we are situated in the Coega Development Corporation’s SEZ – which we see as a leading catalyst for development in this region – we hope to secure projects in this zone and the greater region.”

He said Kenako would also play a role in local SMME development.

This was confirmed by Unathi Maholwana, who heads the CDC’s SMME Development Unit.

“We would like Kenako Concrete to play a role in the SMME value chain,” Maholwana said.

“One way of achieving this is to build relationships between Kenako and SMMEs who win contracts through the CDC.

“Kenako would be the preferred supplier to these SMMEs, who in turn could access more competitive pricing from Kenako.

“Underpinning this is the policy to keep the value and supply chain local so that as many as possible benefit from projects,” she said.

Kenako boasts a fleet of 16 specialised concrete-transporting trucks, while the young company employs a permanent workforce of 46.

A further 46 temporary jobs were created during the construction of the Kenako facility – which is currently serving 30 accounts but has the capacity to double that, while also developing new mobile plants.

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