SUGAR MILL CHAOS

29 people arrested in a standoff at Chemelil sugar

Workers tried to deny the company’s Director Gabriel Nyangweso access to the mill.

In Summary

• A section of workers tried to deny the company’s Managing Director Gabriel Nyangweso access to the mill saying he had been sent on compulsory leave.

• The workers hurriedly switched off the mill in protest of his presence at the factory.

Chemelil sugar factory workers addressing the media.
Chemelil sugar factory workers addressing the media.
Image: FAITH MATETE

29 people have been arrested following a standoff over the control and management of the state-owned Chemelil Sugar Factory.

On Tuesday, a section of workers tried to deny the company’s Managing Director Gabriel Nyangweso access to the mill saying he had been sent on compulsory leave.

The workers hurriedly switched off the mill in protest of his presence at the factory.

However, this did not go well with a section of transporters who confronted the protesting workers.

Police were forced to hurl tear gas canisters to stop the standoff among the groups.

OCPD Chemelil David Muneo confirmed the incident and said a call was made by the MD that workers were rioting and destroying the company's properties.

He said police immediately rushed to the scene to respond to the distress call.

“In the process, the secretary of the union Jack Sida plus other 29 workers who were rioting were apprehended and taken to the police station."

Chemelil OCPD David Muneo.
Chemelil OCPD David Muneo.
Image: FAITH MATETE

He noted that they will be presented in court on Wednesday.

“Amongst the charges are damages of property, creating a disturbance and probably incitement,” Muneo said.

CAS Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Ann Nyaga condemned the incident terming it as unfortunate.

“We expected calm, and that the machines would not be interfered with but that is not what we are getting from the union”.

She noted that people can have disagreements but there are ways to go about them.

“Those are illegal actions. There are ways of expressing grievances in different manners”, the CAS noted.

A series of meetings had been held between the management of the company and the Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers since December 22 last year.

However, last Wednesday, a resolution was made for the company to adhere to and communicate to all the workers during a meeting of the interim management committee, representatives of the union, company management and AFA-Sugar Directorate.

“The main interest of the ministry was to ensure that this factory is running continuously because many critical people benefit from this factory."

She added, “As we continue to work on this, we would not want anything antagonizing the running of the factory”.

In other resolutions, in terms of factory operations, the Agriculture Ministry will appoint a board of directors to oversee the management of the company.

On payment of retirees, “the payment of retirees benefits to continue as is the case currently but other payment plans taking into consideration for a lump-sum payment, to be explored and communicated to the ministry for approval. Timeline is August 2022”.

Nyaga said in the resolution that to ensure the sugar factory operates continuously and generates the much-desired revenue, all workers are expected to maintain discipline and commitment at their places of work at all times.

‘They should desist from activities that can lead to any loss such as switching off of machines without engineers authority or when there is no breakdown”.

She said indiscipline will not be condoned and firm action will be taken against those found jeopardizing factory operation.

A major maintenance at the factory has been slated for May