•The workers and farmers who converged outside the sugar miller premises said the Uganda-based firm has allegedly not paid salary arrears and sugarcane supplied about three years ago despite allegedly promising to do so.
Mumias Sugar workers and cane farmers are up in arms against Sarrai Group over allegations of failing to honour its promise to pay their dues.
The workers and farmers who converged outside the sugar miller premises claimed the Ugandan-based firm has not paid salary arrears and sugarcane supplied about three years ago despite allegedly promising to do so.
The sugarcanes were supplied at a time when Sarrai had not taken over operations at the Sugar mill.
“Mumias collapsed when I had just supplied sugarcane worth Sh320, 000 in 2018 June. When Sarrai Group came in, they sat down with us farmers and promised to pay our dues but that has never happened.
“I now don’t have money to maintain my 20-acre piece of land that has sugarcane. I have suffered to the extent I cannot pay school fees for my children,” Yaya Manya, one of the farmers said.
The farmers said when Sarrai Group took over the operations of the miller, it promised to help farmers.
“If they have any agreement they have signed with farmers, then I don’t know which farmers are those because we live here and we are the ones with sugarcane. Let Sarrai show us the list of farmers they are working with because from my house to the factory is just three kilometres,” Manya added.
The farmers also demanded to know where the sugar being processed at the factory is.
They claim despite them seeing it roaring back to life, there was no Mumias Sugar brand at the Supermarket or local shops.
“We don’t know where they are taking the sugar they claim to be producing daily,” Manys stated.
Chairman of former Mumias Sugar employees Patrick Mutimba alleged that they have been locked out of the premises despite the millers owing them millions of shillings in salary arrears.
“It is said that some workers are to be evicted from their houses despite labour laws saying you cannot be locked out of your place of work until all your dues have been paid.
“We have not been paid since 2019. Our children have dropped out of school and they are now planning to chase us away from the servants’ quarters and we do not have money to pay rent elsewhere,” Mutimba claimed.
The Star could not substantiate the claims by the time of going to press. We are also in pursuit of the Sarrai Group for a comment on the same and we promise to give their side of the story once they respond.
The workers also accused the group of allegedly breaching an agreement that would have seen former workers retained at the company.
They said the agreement allegedly signed in December 2021 required Sarrai to absorb former employees once they take over.
“The workers here are also farmers. They come from this community. Why is the company sidelining them and they are the ones who make this factory operational?” one of the workers posed.
The farmers also accused local politicians whom they claim has contributed to their woes.
“We have seen a leader inside Mumias Sugar factory saying the factory is operating. If it is operating, where is the sugar the factory is producing?” another farmer posed.
The protests come in the wake of push and pull surrounding the tender lease of the factory.
Two months ago, Sarrai Group was blocked by the appellate court from operating at the Sugar mill.
In their ruling on September 23, three appellate court judges said the applicants had demonstrated an appeal which will be rendered nugatory in case the execution does not stay during the hearing of the case.