Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli wants private sugar factories closed for allegedly “creating an enabling environment” for corruption in the sugar sector.
He said private millers have created room for sugar barons to import illegal sugar, which they repackage, creating a sugar glut in the country.
Atwoli said the state-owned sugar industries are suffering because of the influx of illegal sugar into the market. Some of the companies are closed down.
He spoke on Saturday at Chemelil in Kisumu during the burial of former trade unionist Raymond Odhuno. Atwoli said the sugar sector is a key contributor to the economy.
“State-owned companies have not been able to sell sugar because of illegal importation, which floods the market,” he said.
Atwoli called on governors from cane growing counties to shut down all the private millers and establish a company of their own to run the sugar industry in the region.
“We want governors in Nyanza and Western regions under their economic umbrella body – the Lake Region Economic Bloc – to focus more on reviving the sugar industries,” he said.
The Cotu boss said sugar barons and cartels in the sector must be dealt with for local companies to be productive.
“The privately-owned sugar factories are run by cartels. They must be shut down for the government-owned companies to resume productive operations,” Atwoli said.
“The 14 governors under LREB should form a company that will run sugar industry in the region after closing private millers to save local companies from collapsing”.
Atwoli criticised leaders “fond of visiting privately-owned millers for monetary gains”. “Kenyans should avoid such leaders like a plague because they are selfish and have no interest of the people at heart.”
Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo said some selfish leaders have been “pocketed” by private millers at the expense of Kenyans.
“Local industries are being killed by these unscrupulous traders who own private sugar industries,” he said. Atwoli also accused private millers of cane poaching.