Herein I will describe mainly the various stages of construction projects for the Bamburi Works and its ancillary structures during my 20-year involvement with this plant. At first a few lines about begin of the cement production in Kenya as narrated by Dr. Felix Mandl, who was first the Managing Director and the Chairman of Bamburi Portland Cement Co. Ltd. Mombasa (Kenya) later. He was released from the prison in Yugoslavia on October 5, 1950 sentenced to it by the communist’s regime in 1945. He was a director of the Cement factory of CROATIA Co. Ltd. Zagreb that the regime nationalized. Mandl and his wife Annie returned to Zurich and found there two staff members only of Cementia Holding. This company has lost during and after World War 2 all the works in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia due to the nationalization of the private property by the new regimes. Fortunately Cementia retained a modest participation in the Austrian cement company of “Perlmooser”, some cash and shares as well as gold deposits in UK and US, partly blocked.   


Without sufficient founds to finance a new factory on his own Mandl traveled to Kenya in May 1951 to investigate a possibility to start cement manufacturing first time at the coast. The limestone deposits consisted of a former coral reef that was overgrown by dense bush. Few Asians owned small quarries where coral blocks of pure limestone were cut by hand. Nearby the Crown land offered 200 acres of shale as for the 2nd component of raw material. Mandl made up his mind to put up his new cement works near Bamburi village and returned to Mombasa “for good” in January 1952 already. The first contractor Taylor & Woodrow (UK) made good progress during 1952 so the plant erection could start in May 1953 already. The coral quarry opened by mid 1953 with some doubts regarding calcium carbonate content that was above 87% (over 85% as minimum). A simple road was made leading to the shale quarry where the extraction started in October.


Mandl employed several former Cementia’s employees like Werner Smolniker to act as the Chief of Construction office as well as a few Austrians from “Perlmooser”. A total of 15 Italian artisans from Pula joined the new plant in 1953. Hubert Spannring also a former Consultant to Cementia provided major design parts for the new plant but had to leave Bamburi due to his health hazard. At begin of 1954 the plant erection had been completed and the first shaft kiln lit in February 1954 when Anton Koch, the first Technical director, left because of health reasons too. The first two shaft kilns were made by KRUPP Germany but some technical problems with a screw conveyor were solved when it had been replaced by a pan-nodulizer (for this semi-dry process). Since then each kiln produced 80t/d of clinker and the output had increased to 170t/d after technical improvements were made with time. The new plant dispatched the first cement by end of April 1954. Until then one had to import cement from UK, Germany, Belgium and Japan mostly in barrels.


The official opening of the Bamburi factory under its former name of British Standard Portland Cement Co. Ltd. was on March 24, 1956. The Bamburi plant could produce some 100,000t of cement that was Kenya’s annual consumption then. In 1956 one erected and lit up the first shaft kiln made by VON ROLL Switzerland. It brought up the annual capacity to 350,000t and the export of cement in bags started to Dar-es-Salaam. First contacts to export cement to Island of Mauritius were in 1957 so considered to transport cement in bulk. One converted Southern Lines 1800t freighter in a bulk carrier installing a pneumatic loading and unloading system in 1959. This first bulk carrier sailed under a new name “Southern Baobab” and in 1961 started to shipping cement in bulk to Dar-es-Salaam (for the new company Tanzania Portland Cement Co.). Shipments followed to the Islands of Mauritius and Reunion after.


The suitable berthing place for the bulk carrier had been found at the English Point just opposite to the Mombasa Old Harbor. One had constructed a berthing bridge and two concrete silos for 3,000t of cement each.  A number of vehicles converted to road carriers traveled between the factory and English Point – a distance of say 8km -filling up the silos cement in bulk too. The “Southern Baobab” would take about 3,000t cement in bulk on one voyage so the two silos were sufficient at that time of operation.


Bamburi Works with 3 shaft kilns operating as from 1960 in aerial view westwards.

Crane hall has 24 bays by 8m equaling to a total length of 192m.


When I joined Bamburi Works in August 1964 the last two kilns (also from Von Roll) of the total of six kilns were under trial runs already. The improved technique of Von Roll’s shaft kilns – four of them – and the operating experience raised the plant annual capacity to 400,000t of cement by end of 1963. In 1958 APCM and Tunnel (UK) had operated a small clinker grinding plant in Nairobi and decided to put up a factory at Athi River near Nairobi. This decision forced BPCCo to concentrate on the export of cement and definitely defined its future development.


However, Dr. Mandl’s endeavor to start cement production in Kenya was met with lot of antagonism and disagreement by the former British colonial administration of Kenya in the late 1950s. Jomo Kenyatta reputation with the British government was marred by his assumed involvement with the Mau Mau Rebellion. He was indicted with six others on the charges of managing and being a member of the Mau Mau Society. The Court sentenced Kenyatta to 7 years of hard labor and permanent restriction April 8, 1953 but he was freed from detention on August 21, 1961. Kenyatta was elected president of KANU (Kenya African National Union) and after the elections in May 1963 KANU won 83 seats out of 124. On June 1, 1963 Kenyatta became the first Prime Minister of the autonomous Kenyan government. At midnight of December 11, 1963 Kenya proclaimed its independence. Jomo Kenyatta nicknamed MZEE (meaning Old Man or Elder in Swahili) retained the role of the Prime Minister. Kenya became the republic on December 12, 1964 and Mzee remained its Executive president On December 12, 1964.


In the following years I have witnessed good understanding and relationship between Mzee and Felix Mandl. Kenyatta often came to the coast and acquired some property on the Bamburi Beach in 1965. We prepared the design for his house and I got the opportunity to learn in Kenyatta an extraordinary and amazing personality. You may read more about this project later.





Since my arrival to Bamburi Works early August 1964 I hardly had any time to deal with anything else as I was too much occupied with the Wazo Hill project at first. However, Dick Ian Roberts Works’ General Manager (GM) believed that I have some “spare” time and asked me to have a look at the one of the two Works’ own concrete block plants at Chamgamwe. One reaches this suburb north of the Mombasa Island by road over the causeway next to the railway line leading to Nairobi too. In 1960s there was the only Mombasa’s Open-air cinema as well as a small industrial region with a few steel and wood workshops. The Block plant I was looking for was just opposite to the cinema but there was no guard at the gate that I entered unhindered. Some workers moved around but the block making machine did not operate. I asked to see the supervisor and was told that he did not turn up for days. I noticed that the concrete mixer uses a kind of grey crushed gravel cum sand differing from the normal coral rag. This gravel came from a quarry at Rabai owned also by BPCCo that was several kilometers of north on the main road to Nairobi. This sandstone quarry seemed to me as good source for the sand to be used with crushed coral rag for producing better concrete mix qualities.

With the last two Shaft kilns at right the total production of six kiln rose

to about 1.200t of clinker per day.


My report to Dick was more than disastrous as I suggested closing down this Block plant at Chamgamwe or to lease it to a private person. Such a lease could include the exploration of the Rabai quarry too making sure that BPCCo would get the sand from there for its own one Block plant. My proposal was accepted instantly so I got caught up with the later one being the reasonable solution – said the GM. Also I found out that the workers were paid 1 Cent per produced block disregarding whether there was any demand on the market regarding size or number of blocks or any sales after all. Both concrete block plants were formally under the control of the Building Department (BD) Superintendent who was a tall and bulky Sikh. This almost chaotic system without any proper control had to lead to a confrontation with BD’s Superintendent Tara Singh.


In the meantime a young Englishman appeared in the Head Office (HO) asking to see the GM Mr. Dick Roberts. He introduced himself as the Chamgamwe Block Plant Manager although nobody knew him here in the Head offices. After Dick called me he made it clear to the visitor that he was not on duty at the Block plant during my several inspections recently. The young man was out of the office before anything. Seeing it as good omen Dick asked me for an inspection of the Block plant located within factory’s compound. Obviously word spreads about my inspections at Chamgamwe so workers were cautioned. However, the lack of supervision and sales discipline was almost the same like at other plant. I decided to see Tara Singh first before issuing any instruction to the workers. The large Sigh did not like my visit at all. He informed me that the plant produces concrete blocks for the Building Department sole need. There are no sales for any outside customers - he said. Yet his answers did not satisfy me so I continued according GM’s instructions.


One of the two new block making machines. In the background is

the Cement Mill No. 3 building behind the old 6 cement silos.


Works’ own Block Plant (BP) had two almost new concrete block making machines. There was one concrete batching plant and two motor-driven kippers supplied any of the two block machines. First I stopped the production as there were many concrete blocks stockpiled at the yard perimeter anyway. Out of the permanent laborers two teams were formed choosing one out of them to act as their team-heads. I found one worker who had concluded secondary school so he was appointed as the administrator of the BP. His first task was to make the inventory of anything used in the plant. Later he would keep a dairy book entering specific data like: number laborers, number and type of blocks produces, dispatched (later sold) number and type of blocks etc.


The plant had mould for block sizes: 3”x9”x18”, 6”x9”x”18” and 9”x9”x18”. The concrete blocks could be cast as solid or with two hollows. Later we made moulds for flag-stones 50x50cm, road curbstones etc. Finally a price list has been printed with help of the Sales Department and concrete blocks would be sold to any customer. Building Department got a discount but it had to pay for the collected concrete blocks for the first time. Tara Singh disliked the new order outright. Permanent staff of the BP retained their bonus of 1Cent/block accounted according to the sold number of blocks only. Thus BP’s administrator became an important person of my personal control and his wage went up accordingly.


It became evident that our originally understood stay between 3 to 6 months at Bamburi would be extended well into 1965. The construction works at Wazo Hill were well under way at last and I got my own room in Bamburi Head Office. Gerhard Schauderna, Chief Mechanical Engineer, had moved out two electricians of whom one left for good and the other was appointed to Wazo Hill. When Dr. Mandl arrived before Christmas 1964 talks started regarding the cement milling capacity. The six shaft kilns performed extremely well but the two small cement mils could not cope with whole clinker output. The export of cement was another issue showing a significant upward trend. Thus I was instructed to make a preliminary design for a new cement mill that capacity would take care of all 6 shaft kilns clinker output or even more.


Did I hear well that the management contemplates to put up a rotary kiln too? If there something true in this gossip then Bamburi Works are for some great changes? Just a thought I suggested to Dr. Mandl considering two bigger cement mills in the future in the preliminary design of the cement mill (CM) No. 3 first. This proposal was accepted unanimously the implementation of it would cause me some “headaches” in future. As first I discussed this news with Werner Smolniker whose firsthand experiences with Bamburi works were for me of outmost importance. I asked for the survey plan of the factory yet it was disappointing that such a plan did not exist at all. My experience with Wazo Hill infrastructure design made me rather anxious to have a general survey plan of Bamburi. GM gave me the permission to seek for a surveyor who should carry out the general assessment of total Works and draw a proper survey plan for future usage. Soon I would get the benefit of this early decision particularly when the next plant major extension with a rotary kiln turned into actuality.


The construction of Cement Mill No.3 building is well underway. In this backdrop view

southwards  is the Shaft kilns building and the Cement silos cum Paking Plant at left.


Troubles come double – Tara Singh resigned from his post as the Superintend of BD as to retire but it was a common “secrete” that he would start his own business. GM asked me to head the Building Department (BD) temporarily until another suitable person would be found. Besides I could reorganize this department in my way that brought some fairly good solutions say with Block plants. The BD was an essential part of the Works and it certainly needed a professional chief as well as a continuous control over several sites one worked simultaneously. The most important group of artisans was the masons (mostly of Indian origin) whose main duty was the repairing and realigning of the kiln fire bricks. There were a number of good carpenters (some from Seychelles) who did a lot of maintenance works particularly in the Company’s housing estates. These artisans were permanently employed like a smaller number of painters and plumbers (most of them Kenyans). Next to this BD’s constant number of workers – say some 60 of – there a varying number of casual laborers whose weekly wages were paid Saturdays. The total labor force in the BD could reach well over 100 and I remember cases where we had over 150 artisans and casual laborers working at a dozen different places at once.



The cement mill casing unloaded in Kilindini Harbour                   The casing continued on a lowloader moving

    onto a pontoon arrived to the old Kisauni ferry                           on the mainland from Kisauni on the main road

              berthing place (picture at left).                                                 Kilifi – Malindi - Lamu on its way to the factory.


It was the standard practice that the laborers collected working tools and equipment on Monday morning before going to their respective site. Nothing was supposed to be left unattended at any of Company’s sites yet in some cases an employee or tenant would lock them until next morning. The artisans had their own tools that they kept in a locked wooden case left in the stores or often taken home on weekends. The issued working utensils to laborers and casual workers were supposed to be returned to BD’s store on Friday’s as the wages were to be collected on Saturday’s. Unfortunately nobody checked either the number or the state of working tools and equipment given out on Monday – one just sorted it out and put on shelves or stored some aside. The superintendent ordered new tools say chisels hammers, pliers or any expendables without considering that certain items are stolen or not returned though they could last for longer or just reduce expenditures.


By mere chance I met Omar, a young Kenyan, in the equipment store. Omar did not look like an artisan yet more like a thinker and who spoke good English. He was the right person for the Stores attendant and understood my point about the indiscriminate waste of utensils instantly. On next Monday Omar got a large book in that he entered name or ID-number of any a person adding to and specifying working utensils borrowed as well as person’s signature or whatever chosen sign. At day’s end Omar would cross out in his mighty book any returned utensils or just open new pages for the next day.


On next Friday Omar stayed a bit longer in his small office to write any missing or not returned item against the borrower’s name. Then he would deduct a nominal fee for each missing item (we agreed on an average of as little as KSh2) in the wage list that would be used by the Wage Office for payouts next morning. This Saturday became the “turning point” for the BD’s Stores – one should have seen workers’ consternated faces because of the wage reduction. There was a notice saying that one would get back the reduction provided that borrowed items are returned to the Stores until next Friday. This action was the full success – Omar got more tools back than he had issued during that working week on Friday next. The new rules and order instigated by the provisional “broom” spread like a bushfire in the factory and I got known as the “Bwana Makuba” (“Big Man” or “Burly Man” probably because of my body weight of some 100kg+).


The Cement Mill No. 3 casing arrived safely to the factory. It would be rolled into the building on

its foundation not ready yet. The construction of foundation started with the excavation completed.


The Building Department’s function was rather complex: most important was the assistance in the regular plant (like kilns) maintenance work. Next came the upholding of factory’s own housing estates that included the village for junior staff and a number of houses and dwellings for senior staff. Permanent employed skilled workers including number of trained laborers were mainly used for these works. The artisans’ headmen selected by long time standing with the Company decided upon the size of a workforce for any project and whether a number of unskilled laborers needed. Unskilled laborers were waiting nearby the gatehouse and were picked up by any of the headmen or by an officer from the Wage Department. In most cases the unskilled laborers were employed for infrastructural works on roads or surface drainage and for general cleaning.


I found the BD’s “ancient” organization not easy to control so I gave Omar another job to keep the Order Book up-to-date. Daily each of the headmen had to name the project he would supervise, number of skilled, trained and unskilled workers, building materials requests etc. Although there was some grumbling at the beginning yet within a short time Omar would present properly filled in the Order Book for my daily inspection. Thus I could inspect various projects’ sites at any of my spare time that I did not have too much. The discipline improved significantly as well as workers’ productivity when they learned that Bwana Makuba makes announced control visits rather often. Soon I found out that workers misuse allocated times for morning tea breaks. Mornings are cooler making it pleasant to bask in shadows waiting until tea is brewed. The tea preparation was an individual matter so there was a lot of chatting and squatting around until everybody finished his tea. The tea time break of say 20 minutes would be extended easily into an hour or if “necessary” even more particularly if nobody controlled it.


I found a thermos of 10l in a hardware store in Mombasa and bought a few for the BD. One filled boiling water in the thermos and added adequate number of tea-bags loading them on the pickup. The pickup toured around all working sites delivering the hot tea in thermos. Thus the tea-time break could be kept under say 30 minutes at least. However  workers complained that the tea was too hot as they could not hold it in their tin cans. In the wake of these changes news spread by “bush drums” fast when I was on my way to inspect a site. On one occasion I found a newly erected wall of 6” (15cm) hollow blocks to be plastered although it was out of plane and line too. The mason in charge told as I complained that they would plaster make the wall plane and right by plastering. I got so furious and getting hold of a mallet smashed into the wall that collapsed into a pile of rubbish instantly. {I wondered whether there was any mortar in the joints after.} This incident got me an epitaph extension as “Bwana Makuba, kali sana leo!” that “bush drums” would signal about my mood that “Burly Man (is) very angry today!”


The view northwards into the Crane Hall with clinker storage partitions.

At far right side are the feeding bunkers for cement mills.

The gypsum crusher bunkers are midway at left.  


In the meantime Dick Roberts issued a notice inviting a qualified person for the post of BD’s Superintendent. Fortunately for me it was answered by mid of 1965 by Stefano Fabrizzi, an Italian, who turned out to be good organizer and a specialist in terrazzo works on floors and walls. Also I got my own secretary Mrs. Pereira and she worked in the newly allocated room to me too. Few months later she told me that her husband left the Mombasa Municipality where he worked as a senior civil engineer. Both Pereira’s were from Goa (India) and the Company accepted Mr. Pereira to work in the Design office in June 1965. Now my team consisted of indispensable Werner Smolniker, Tony de Souza (also Goan) as draughtsman and the newcomer civil engineer Pereira. 





The six shaft kilns their reached its economic objective producing about 1.000t of clinker by end of 1963. All the materials required were stored in the Crane Hall like the crushed coral rock to be milled to raw meal with “black cotton soil” as the silica component and iron ore, then the anthracite coal for burning clinker and natural gypsum for cement grinding. The Crane Hall was roofed and consisted of 24 bays 8m each thus its total length was 192m. At both sides retaining walls of 8m height enabled the two cranes to distribute and pile up various materials at appropriate areas. The smaller northern part was allocated to clinker and gypsum whereas the larger southern part for the raw materials. When a coal shipment arrived from Mozambique it had to be stored at the quart temporarily as well as the iron ore sometimes.


Jerry alias Gerhard Schauderna, Chief Mechanical Engineer, brought me to study the preliminary mechanical drawings of a KRUPP cement mill (CM). Its milling capacity was a bit larger than that of the two existing old cement mills. The later ones hardly could cope with the increased clinker production as well as the demand of cement for export. Our cooperation was probably the first case that a civil engineer provided a preliminary drawing for a structure in that the plant could be accommodated. We decided that one would need 3 bays of 8m width at the Crane Hall (CH) northern section to provide enough room for the CM#3 at first and for a CM#4 possibly in future.


The distance between CH and a main road was limited but so it was agreed upon to push the mill inlet well inside the CH. We prepare preliminary structural drawings for the bunkers that length was 24m and to be used by two CMs. The bunkers’ top was restricted by a crane grab level when discharging into a bunker. The largest two bunkers for clinker were positioned at outer ends and the gypsum bunker had two outlets. Placing mill inlet directly under the clinker bunker feeder one achieved the biggest clinker bunker capacity and there was enough free room under the mill body for the discharge of grinding media into a hopper underneath. The mill drive shaft had to be as short as possible and had a hydraulic clutch of a new design too. The middle of the three 8m bays was left free and had no roof enabling an access to the mill buildings in case of maintenance and/or repair. The early cooperation between mechanical and civil engineers resulted in practical and agreeable achievement for the new cement milling facilities later.


One found a large pile of concrete blocks under a thick cover of dust when the clearing started on the site of new cement mills. Hundreds of these blocks would be used by the BD or were sold bringing extra cash to the company. The two old cement mills made a lot of noise and steady vibrations were felt in the Head Office some 50m away too. The vibrations were especially intense at mill startup or sudden stoppage. A few pits had to been excavated at the place of prospective CM#3 foundation. This foundation would be a rather large one because by “rule of thumb” its weight should be 1,5times of the mill dead and live load that was about 800t by itself. The workers hit on solid coral rock just below the surface thus it became obvious that by this rock layer vibrations are send out to all structures founded upon the same one. Something had to be done preventing the by far more potent vibrations of the two larger cement mills to spread towards the Head Office in future.


The order for the CM#3 was placed with KRUPP W. Germany and soon we got all the mechanical details and loads needed for the structural design. During Univ. Prof. Otto Werner’s regular visit to Bamburi in February 1965 we agreed upon to split the detailed design. The building drawings would come from Zagreb where as we would make the design for bunkers and all the foundations. The original preliminary structural drawing prepared for the supplier’s tender proved to be pretty essential for a speedy completion of working drawings and the early start of construction works of the building of CM#3 and bunkers inside the Crane Hall too.


The mill foundation all in solid coral had been excavated some 25cm deeper and wider than required by the actual dimensions. At the bottom a layer of coral rag (grain size >6mm) 20cm thick was spread and compacted first. A layer of cement mortar say 5cm thick cast one spread plastic sheet provided the designed level of foundation base. Later one filled with coral rag the gap of some 25cm between foundation sides and the coral rock oversized excavation too. Thus the mill foundation did not have any direct contact with the solid coral layer. The coral rag fill underneath the foundation and all around acted as the damper of vibrations.


This innovative design had been so effective that nobody in the Head Office noticed whether one or both of the new large cement mills were running or not. This damping of vibrations had been applied in the cement industry probably for the first time. A few years later the foundation of CM#4 had been constructed with a different damping system. One placed so called “anti-vibration pads” (a Swiss patent) that were a little bit more costly but allowed adequate saving of the foundation weight. These pads were positioned according to a planned raster under the mill foundation. The coral rag filled in the gap between foundation sides and the oversized excavated coral rock as for CM#3. The anti-vibration pads are essentially used in the printing industry to support a very long printing machine almost vibration free. The damping effect of these pads is about 90% and there different pad’s qualities available depending upon the required load bearing capacity.





The general survey drawing of Bamburi Works had been delivered to my office almost at the day when Jerry announcing the approval for a new Works extension. This time it would be used a rotary kiln working by the dry process as hot gases from kiln dry and heat the raw meal in cyclones set up in a Heat Exchanger Tower (HET). First several layout sketches of the new plant were composed considering a possibility for a second kiln line to be erected in future too. The estimated required space within the present factory area was not available and it became obvious that one have to widen it. After several trials moving the fictive area for two rotary kilns over the general survey drawing we decided that the only suitable area was next to the Mechanical workshops & Stores up to existing and the front of the two existing Raw meal Mills (RM). This free area of say 10.000m² had been available beyond the eastern plot fence and the demolition of existing Garage with workshops, parking lots and petrol station.


Bamburi Works Extension with the first Rotary Kiln construction state as per early in 1966.

In backdrop are the new Garage Workshops and the quarry road in the view eastwards.

In front from left the Burner Building and Kiln House columns coming up.


There was no time left to wait Dr. Mandl’s blessing. We just started drawing up the plot extension as well as the design work with working drawings for the complex for the new Garage cum workshops and inspection pits as well as a Petrol station. Also Jerry had agreed upon the location of a new Power transformer station after intensive contacts with the power supplier. A new road access to the Garage compound had to be built too that would greatly relieve the traffic within the factory itself as well. The demolition of old Garage turned up not to be as easy as I thought instructing the workers to preserve the roof timber rafters. These were of cedar tree hand worked long beams of still excellent quality after say 10 years age only. However, workers could not take apart the beams joined by bolts and grasp plates so they had to handsaw them apart – not an easy task sawing cedar tree rafters of large size at all.    


The construction work on the building for Cement Mill #3 progressed well particularly inside the Crane hall where a large gap of 3 bays really looked weird. The bunkers’ inner wall had to be built up fast as to prevent clinker spilling into the construction area. The new road to Garage compound was almost completed with a new gate in the fence part of re-erected and some new slabs had to be made in order to close in the extended area of the 10.000m². The later got a concrete pavement that was not finished yet when Dr. Mandl arrived on his next visit by mid of 1965.


I had to accompany him on one of the next mornings and we visited the construction site of CM#3 first where I explained the works progress hampered by obstructions and narrowness of old buildings. Then we walked over to the open space envisaged for the rotary kilns gapping open now. Dr. Mandl became irritable as he missed the old Garage with its striking roof. Was it really necessary to demolish it - he asked? On we went to view the new Garage compound looking rather spacious despite lot of works going on everywhere. Suddenly Dr. Mandl got on scolding me: “Zvonko, it’s obvious that you’re still socialistic minded. You do not care about cost at all! What for are all those concrete paved areas? This is just a waste of money – throwing out money that’s not yours!”



    Completed foundations for the two Raw Meal            Started casting of the floor of a Raw Meal Storage
                                    Blending and Storage Silos. The bottom floor form      Silo in front. The reinforcement is almost ready
Burner Building is in background.                 for the second Storage silo floor.  


With these angry words he left me standing there stunned. I just wondered what has the socialism to do with the well progressing construction work needed for a works extension. Best is to forget what the boss said? This was not to be the last time Dr. Mandl “scolded” me for something that would turn out to be a success or the right thing done. Nonetheless he never had commended or praised me for anything he criticized before despite it was a success or done to his satisfaction.


The first year of our stay in Kenya passed almost like a whirlwind of events we were hardly able take full notice of going on around us. It was time for us to take a break as I and my family was ready for holidays. On August 20 we started a 3-week safari across Kenya first driving north and then turning back moving southwards to visit Mara Game Reserve. From there we crossed into Tanzania pushing on through plains of Serengeti and up to the Ngorongo Crater. We returned home bypassing first Tsavo West and then the East one arriving to Bamburi and its Beach at last. Refreshed by our long leave we have had many remembrances on the natural beauties of our new habitat. We felt lucky that we stayed longer than the originally envisaged short period of say 3 months or so. In the office I was confronted almost with an avalanche of news, enquiries and urgent needs of action on my behalf.


The progress of construction works at Wazo Hill was well under way however it was important that I restart my weekly site inspection soonest. Yet on my first morning tour around the factory it surprised me how much had changed within the 3-week since the last time I went round here. Construction work on CM#3 was progressing as expected particularly bunkers that were taking their profile. The concrete paving at new Garage compound was almost completed and outlines of various buildings could be seen all over the site. Later Jerry appeared in my office with a staple of mechanical drawings announcing that the order for a Rotary Kiln had been placed at last. The supplier was KHD Germany the same as of the rotary kiln in Wazo Hill but the one at Bamburi would be have a bigger capacity of clinker output that of nominal 1.000t/d.



                                      At left view down onto the Kiln House ground floor.     The construction works progress on the Heat

The scaffolding erection started for the roof level.           Exchanger Tower at left. Raw Meal Blending

                                                                                                   Silos scaffold for a climbing form at right.


The new extension of Bamburi Works was significant from the process point of view too. The 6 Shaft kilns worked with the so called semi-dry process where as the process of a Rotary kiln is a dry one. The major buildings needed for the new plant were: Raw meal mill, Raw Meal Blending & Storage Silos (RMBSS), Heat exchanger tower (HET), Rotary kiln foundations and housing, Burner Building with Clinker Crusher and Clinker transport. The later one had to be constructed enabling a much larger clinker transport capacity in the future. For many hours we sat together considering various plant layouts and Smolniker had to draw a number of sketches of these. He used a paper copy of the general survey drawing to prepare any sketch and without this drawing one could not work out so fast on the variants at all. At long last we agreed upon the one layout solution and the final plant layout drawing was to be used from now on. The suppliers could prepare their mechanical drawings that contained all dimensions and load data needed for the structural design work afterwards.


The structural design work had to be broken up between our office and Werner’s group on the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Zagreb. In the meantime Kenya went “metric” so we would MS (decimal) dimensional units only. As the curiosity diameters of steel bars for reinforcement were still in inches but that did not matter much in the drafting work. Our office took over the design work of Kiln foundations (without the roof), the Burner building with the adjacent Clinker crusher and Clinker transport as the most important one. The later one was a problem because the Rotary kiln axis was perpendicular to the Crane hall at its southern section that was used for raw materials storage. Yet the clinker storage was at CH northern part meaning that the clinker transport had to be a rather long one using two chain conveyors – of some 150m total length. The first chain started at the subterranean chamber of the Clinker crusher outlet and came out of the ground rising up to a height of 10m above first on a slanted bridge. The later less steep part passes along the Cement silos where the direction changes by a right angle to its final outlet drop into Crane hall.


The new plant layout had some more curiosities particularly as it had to envisage an additional rotary kiln in nearby future. This meant – as my experience proved later – that a plant extension is never to be a proper copy of an existing one. Thus the chain conveyor for clinker transport and its supporting bridge structure had to be designed for an increased capacity up to 200% - that is a tripled production capacity of say 3.000t/d clinker. Over the kiln one had to have a rather high roof platform to support the mighty Electro filter as there was no place to have it placed within the mill building for the raw meal. The mill was larger and longer than the existing two ones so its axis had to be turned at a right angle thus parallel to the axis of Crane hall. The width of the new mill building became equal to the building length of the two old mills.


In the new plant one did not envisage installing a personal and/or material lift although the new buildings were much taller than the existing ones. There was to be a new open staircase attached to the HET to reach its highest platform. From it one would ascend via an extra spiral stairway to its roof and/or walk over on the roof of RMBSS. Still there were other connections between various platforms at lower levels too. Yet ascending by steps has not been pleasant task in this climate when doing the required maintenance work a few times per day. In the old plant were the standard steps in average h x b = 19 x 23cm (7½ x 9 inches) that was to be by far too steep on the new staircase climbing up to more than 60m level. Thus I had to change this ratio and choose the step height to be around 16cm and the width of 30cm. This resulted in a by far less steep gradient that would be valid on all future projects I had to deal with. The actual step height could vary a bit depending upon the level difference to be achieved but it had to be strictly adhered to throughout – more often than it was not done before mostly due to a lack of supervision.


When the new plant layout had been defined and the orders placed for the machinery manufacturers one could start with the preparation of the Tender document for building construction works. Bamburi Works had the Quantity surveyor (QS) on previous their projects before already so I visited their office in Nairobi on the way to our holidays. Duncan & Partners (Kenya) did a lot of work for the factory and they had an excellent international reputation too. I established a fine and pleasant collaboration with a few of the partners that turned into a long standing cooperation on most projects that I directed from Salzburg in later years. I have learned a lot from the Wazo Hill project misgivings in the past year so we got agreed upon a new issue of the Technical Description and the Bill of Quantities for the Bamburi project. It was my idea to add a list containing Unit rates for various and/or standard works in case one could not determine or estimate the adequate quantities in the Tender document. The supervising engineer would have it easier resolving many disputes during construction works in using contractually agreed Unit rates.


With the help of my new friends of Duncan & Partners I acquired more knowledge how to use QS’s services to the best interest of the client and of the Engineer. The Engineer is the most important person on the project and represents client’s interests therein. His primary responsibility is to supervise the quality of construction works and to certify the payments based upon the actual quantities of works measured and certified by the QS on site. In a cooperative effort we finished the Tender document within a few weeks and BPCCo Management decided on the building contractor well before the end of 1965.





The design office got a badly needed staff assistance when Tibor Gaal reappeared in Bamburi. Tibor left Hungary as a fugitive after the turmoil of 1958’s revolutionary days and completed his secondary schooling with the baccalaureate in Vienna. He started his study at Vienna University and graduated as an architect early 1965 and left Austria to “explore” the World. We met him sometime in May 1965 but Tibor did not want to stay with us despite Mandl’s good will invitation. He continued his travel to South Africa where he had been robbed in Johannesburg when remembering Mandl’s invitation. Tibor then returned ruefully to Bamburi to work in our design office. Tibor proved to be talented designer and a rather speedy draughtsman who came just in time to help me with in a new task to design of most economic and low-priced houses constructed by self-made concrete blocks.


BPCCo bought a few hand operated block making machines that would be distributed to few local communities who wanted to participate in building housings for the growing population. As a donation a lorry full with concrete blocks had been delivered to Likoni communal center. At the allocated site Company’s masons had built walls for first of a few “low cost” houses as for an example. Also one instructor showed the interested people how to use the hand-making concrete block machine. It was up to the locals to start their own production of concrete blocks with the donated 1 ton of bagged cement. The future was up to them now!


The factories own housing scheme had to be enlarged too by a larger number of houses. Our newly designed “low-cost” house type was chosen for the camp. Building department got to work on it and a new street sprang up with new type houses at both sides. These houses were occupied by Works’ lower level employees who liked them more than the former type known as “roundawells”. The later had round wall built of coral or concrete block about 2m height and were topped up by a thatched roof. The cooking and toilette facilities were at the outside of roundawells. Our new design had sleeping quarters and all other facilities including a small floored yard within a compound surrounded by block-work wall about 2m high. One could add one or two more rooms as sleeping quarters at any time depending upon the number of people in a household. The houses had “makuti” roofs (typical local “tiles” made of palm leaves) on a timber rafter at first or tin corrugated sheets topped up with makuti tiles to give a better isolation. The design provided a natural flow of air through holes of upper layer of concrete blocks.   



                             The first tower crane in East Africa brought in             Geneal view of the scaffolding fro the HET left and

                                by the contractor MOWLEM Co. from UK.                 the two RMB&SSs at right. The structures almost

                             The Heat Exchanger Tower at its top floor level.            reached their final height. The Kiln House roofed.


We had initiated and worked out drawings for a new a sewage system for the whole camp that took some time to be completed. One had to add a larger septic tank and a new soak pit had been excavated through about 10m thick coral layer its bottom in sand at about medium sea water level. Learning from bad experience with chocking up of sewage pipes in the old camp site I had directed that each house must have an inspection chamber on the outside of prior to being connected to the sewage system. Thus, one was able to find easily which house has a chock up and get of the blocking. The good news about a camp good functioning sewage system “traveled” fast and we got many visitors to view our latest product – even the Company invited the Mombasa Municipality Council to present our good functioning sewage system.


Our design office got an order to design the new housing estate for the middle level employees. The allocated plot was next to the factory main access road some 20m of on north side where the new (north) coral quarry was due to be opened in the near future. We could complete the working drawings in relatively short time as Tibor could reuse the design of Block of flats for the staff housing at Wazo Hill. A local contractor started the construction work early 1966 and a total of 3 Blocks with 3 quite large flats in each were completed the same year. Fortunately I could delegate to Tibor some of the site’s control and he cooperated well with Fabrizzi who acted well as the Building Department Superintendent too. I knew too well that I won’t be able to cope with all the work we had in hands once the construction works start on the plant extension.   


In the late 1960s in Kenya one did not have much of a choice of a contractor for such a large industrial project like the envisaged plant extension particularly considering the dimensions of buildings. The client asked for the prospective contractor to open the site in possibly shortest time that is at the beginning of 1966. Another problem represented the request to complete the construction works within 18 months. Therefore a detailed time schedule of works had been attached to the contract. It stipulated the contractor’s obligation specifying collateral damages in case of any delay in completion in respect to the need of particular machinery erection. The contract had been awarded to the well known contractor MOWLEM UK of Kenya by end of 1965 that started the preparation works instantly after. MOWLEM had a good reference already as contractor on Wazo Hill Works for Tanzania Portland Cement Co. Ltd. in Dar-es-Salaam since early 1964 where the construction works were in the final stage by now.


The tower of Heat Exchanger was to be 67m high that was a record height in Kenya’s industry then. The height of 60m of the two RMBSSs forced the contractor to import the first tower crane into Kenya too. The tower crane came from England and its maximum boom working height was at 72 m. The contractor intended to use the slip-form to cast concrete into the silo cylindrical wall – also a first in East Africa. The use of a slip-form envisages a 24-hour casting operation so I asked the contractor to prove that the tower crane would operate at least 2 hours or so without any stoppage. Yet regrettably there were a few unsuccessful attempts because the crane electro-motor stopped working after say 30 minutes of time. Therefore the contactor had asked a specialist electrician to fly in from Nairobi. He climbed up steel ladders to the height of 72m to inspect the e-motor first. Later when down again he sadly informed us that there nothing he could do about. As the next the contractor invited two electricians from Mombasa and after they descended their suggestion had been to place ice wrappings onto the electro-motor to keep it cool.


At last Jerry asked Works’ Chief electrician 66year old Phil if he could climb up to that height hearing about that idiotic proposal to put an ice wrapping on an electro-motor. Wiry Phil made it up at reasonable pace despite his age and returned jolly after a while. With an impish broad smile on his face Phil declared that the electro-motor is perfect condition. All he had to do was to push a particular lever from its “WINTER” position to the “SUMMER” one. Of course the manufacturer from UK had delivered the tower crane as there was the winter season (or it was just a measure of precaution!) now. The first tower crane in East Africa performed in its best way during the whole extension of Bamburi plant extension and it was used on many other occasions in Kenya later too.


MOWLEM considered also using a slip-form for the shuttering to cast the two RMBS silos that would be a premier in East Africa as well. However a RMBSS cylindrical shell is not as ideal for the casting in a slip-form because there are a few intermediate floors – one rather thick and heavy of the blending silo floor. Thus the contractor decided to use the slip-form like a climbing shuttering form working during daytime hours only. The shuttering would slip up for one shift making a height of say 1,5m. Therefore one sees joint-like grooves at regular intervals on the wall surface now-a-days. The performance of a semi-slip-form had been good solution although one could achieve with a normal continuous casting say 2,5m or more height in 24 hours depending upon the size of a cross-section. The chosen method of concreting with a stop-and-go slip-form for two RMBSS had the advantage that one could stop at the right level to erect the shuttering for a floor. The contractor needed about 6 weeks to complete each silo shell what did not matter as it was within the time schedule.



The Kiln house cum foundations ready for the          The excavation for the Clinker Transport route

Plant erection. The HET construction completed       inspected by Mr. Ted Hoskins who was BPCCo

  And the RMB&SS still needed the roof toping up.      Site Agent after. In background is the Kiln House.


MOWLEM staff were able and well accustomed to local working conditions thus we felt a constant pressure in our office regarding supply of drawings etc. Fortunately for me the inspection frequency of visit to Wazo Hill decreased as the construction works were almost completed. Ted Hoskins’ contract as the Site Agent at Wazo was to end so I asked him if he would like to come to Bamburi. Within short time BPCCo Management agreed to my proposal and Ted Hoskins settled at Bamburi by middle of 1966. He took over the Site Agent’s duties and stayed on it until the contract with MOWLEM had been completed in 1967. Ted’s presence allowed me to plan our summer holidays in 1966. We started on August 13 traveling via Nairobi to Uganda where we trekked around a few National Parks. We returned home by September 4 after driving approximately 5.000km in through west of East Africa.


Soon after my return to the office a meeting had been held at Bamburi to conclude MOWLEM’s contract for the construction works at Wazo Hill. The final payment had been agreed upon settling the dispute about delay’s penalties too. One talked about the progress of works at Bamburi and I reported gladly that more or less the contractor keeps up the time schedule. Dr. Mandl asked me when the HET roof top slab would be cast so I offered the date of December 12, 1966 in accordance to the schedule. He said that it would be the December 5 and proposed a bet of KSh100 on that and I had to accept as one should not oppose to what the boss said – being sure about the possible target date. True on time the roof slab had been cast exactly on December 5 and the scaffolding cum shuttering removed a week later on December 12. Yet Dr. Mandl came to the office and claimed his KSh100 because I lost the bet. I paid that amount with a bit “grating” teeth as the slab completion considers that the scaffolding and shuttering had been removed. However a happy boss is more important than a loss of a bet of KSh100 – I thought as being better than to argue about one week.





Soon after we returned from our holidays on the first possible occasion I have informed Dr. Mandl I have invited my parents to visit us here because my father retired closing his lawyer’s office and needs some distraction due to his health state. My parents sold their house in Osijek too and moved to a new flat so it would be a superb opportunity for them to get a break and spend the Christmas with us in Bamburi. Both Mandls believed that this was a good idea of us and fully supported the invitation. My parents arrived on a Yugoslav ship that put out to sea at Rijeka harbor on a cargo ship and arrived in Mombasa Port on October 10, 1966. They stayed with us and we have had wonderful Christmas all together after so many years of separation. Parents stayed with us until February 2, 1967 when they embarked on the same cargo ship they came in almost 4 months ago.


The view of Port Tudor and Mombasa Island at right. At left front is the Bamburi Silos Station

at English Point and behind the Pontoon Bridge to Nyali. The aerial view is in N-W direction 


Since Dr. Mandl’s arrival to Bamburi Works in autumn of 1966 he have been told that one was trying seriously to find the place for the CEMENTIA HOLDING design bureau about what two of us were talking about it at Khartoum Airport in May 1963. Since that time in late 1966 I also have had other things on my mind that were also important for our future. After some time Dr. Mandl has informed that there might an office available for the new design bureau so that we could move to Europe any time early in 1967. One of the places under consideration was Balerna in Tessin (Cementia Holding Co. Ltd. Zurich owned a cement work there) but the restriction on working permits in Switzerland was a major handicap there. As another option one was trying to find a suitable office in Munich but Dr. Mandl obviously has had some other alternatives in mind too.


MOWLEM had dismantled at Wazo Hill all their equipment and machines and enquired whether they could store at Bamburi the movable scaffolding and shuttering they used for the new crane hall. The availability of that equipment had brought about the BPCCo to reflect on the necessity to extend the own crane hall that was of the same design like the one at Wazo Hill. After a short study of storing capacities to various materials linked with the rotary kiln the Management decided to extend the Crane Hall. We worked out an addendum to the present contract adding the extension by a total of 9 bays of which 3 would get the roof (on south side for raw materials) and 6 bays with columns up to the roof level only. At the later six bays one could construct the roof to protect stored clinker if needed later but it saved some expenditure now.


The opening ceremony of the Wazo Hill Works of Tanzania Portland Cement Co. Ltd. Dar-es-Salaam had been held on February 8, 1967. Our departure closed in fast too and busied ourselves with packing and farewell parties. At last we departed from Mombasa on February 18, 1967 and flew via Nairobi to Rome for a stop over of 2 days. Then we continued our travel to Zurich to arrive there on February 21 and finally to Salzburg where we arrived on February 25 1967. A flat in one of the oldest houses in Salzburg had been chosen for the design bureau CEMENTIA INDUSTRIEPLANUNGS AG (short CIPAG) that shares were 100% owned by the parent company CEMENTIA HOLDING AG Zurich. The address of CIPAG was Getreidegasse 21, A-5020 Salzburg where the design bureau had been set up at begin of 1967. 


The extensionm of Bamburi Works by one Rotary kiln and all 6 shaft kilns in the full production

about mid of 1968. The Crane hall extended by six non-roofed bays in an aerial view southwards.



~   ~   ~



Note: The two photographs in B&W copied from the book “BAMBURI CEMENT – Memories of the past – Challenges for the future” published by BAMBURI CEMENT Ltd. Nairobi/Kenya 2004, ISBN 3-03780-510-2.

© Copyright 2008 by Zvonko Springer.  All rights reserved.