SOME FARMERS SCEPTICAL

Ray of hope as Mumias Sugar gets new boss to lead revival efforts

Growers welcome development but want the receiver to prioritise them if the firm is to succeed

In Summary
  • Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers deputy secretary Simon Wesechere says farmers are still loyal to the company.
  • Resident Mondekai Nandwa excited that the company will resume operations and end their suffering.
Mumias Sugar Company Limited
Mumias Sugar Company Limited
Image: FILE

Mixed reactions from cane farmers have greeted the appointment of a new Mumias Sugar Company boss.

Receiver manager MVR Rao named Francis Wabuke acting general manager. Some farmers welcomed the decision, saying it will enable the firm to roar back to life.

The mill has remained shut since April last year over inadequate supply of raw materials blamed on huge debts and poaching of cane by rivals.

Justine Mutobera from Mumias East said any attempt to revive the miller was welcome by all because the installation was critical to the economy of the region.

"We are happy to hear that the receiver manager has finally made the first move towards revival. We, however, hope that he will make farmers a priority to succeed," he said.

Mondekai Nandwa was excited that the company will at last resume operations and end their suffering. "We have really suffered since the company started going down and its current state has affected us badly. We are ready to work with the new management to see it succeed," he said.

The Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers said farmers in the sugar belt are still loyal to the company. Deputy secretary Simon Wesechere said farmers are ready to support the receiver to revive the company.

"There is cane that can support the revival in the fields and farmers are still growing cane, which they have been supplying to other millers since Mumias stopped operations," he said.

A section of growers, however, remained sceptical, saying the receiver has failed to involve them in his revival plans.

Reports indicate that the company could resume operations before Christmas. This will involve a factory cleanup and Ethanal production before cane milling begins early next year.

The growers despaired when Kenya Commercial Bank, one of the firm's creditors, placed it under receivership in September to redeem its debentures that date back to the 1970s. 

On October 30, KCB, Rao, Kakamega county and representatives of secured and unsecured loan lenders met in Nairobi and agreed to support a hybrid receivership of the company.

Yesterday, the Kenya Sugarcane Plantation and Allied Workers Union said the receiver had agreed to rehire in phases the staff fired a month ago, starting with senior management.

"We know the former employees are owed salary arrears for 33 months. We urged them to remain patient because it is better to be out for two to three months and return than remain out completely," secretary general Francis Wangara said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)