NO PROGRESS

Revival of troubled Mumias sugar miller stalls

Firm stopped milling two years ago due to inadequate supply of raw materials and debts.

In Summary

• Receiver manager PVR Rao said Wednesday the company distils ethanol but it’s unclear when cane milling could resume.

• The management ordered spare parts to fix the milling plant from Europe in February. They are yet to be shipped in.

Mumias Sugar factory.
LYING IDLE: Mumias Sugar factory.
Image: HILTON OTENYO

Mumias Sugar Company will not begin crushing cane next month, signalling the stalling of its revival plans.

Receiver manager PVR Rao said Wednesday the company distils ethanol but it’s unclear when cane milling would resume.

The management ordered spare parts to fix the milling plant from Europe in February. They are yet to be shipped in.

 

"We ordered the parts from Europe and as you know the whole of Europe is locking down again due to the second wave of coronavirus. Until the situation normalises, we cannot do anything but we're going on with rehabilitation of the nucleus," Rao said on the phone.

He said they are replanting cane in 670 acres of the company's 1235-acre nucleus estate. The rest of the nucleus estate has been turned into a grazing field.

The company stopped milling two years ago due to inadequate supply of raw material and huge debts owed to suppliers and lenders.

It is currently under receivership of the Kenya Commercial Bank.

Local leaders led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya have been pushing for the firm’s revival.  

On October 12, Mumias East MP Ben Washiali asked Agriculture CS Peter Munya during a departmental committee meeting of the National Assembly how the government was overseeing the receiver manager.

Washiali also sought to know how much money the receiver manager has obtained from the sale of ethanol, scrap metal and any other revenue sources.

 

The Kakamega administration, which spent Sh10 million to fund a task force on how best to revive the miller has not reported on any progress recently.

Trade department officers declined to comment on the revival process.

"We're under strict instructions not to address the media about Mumias. Statements on Mumias can only be issued by the governor himself," George Okumu told the Star. Okumu is the officer tasked with the revival of the factory.  

Governor Oparanya did not answer calls or respond to text messages.

The governor announced this year that his administration has set aside Sh100 million for cane development. The additional sugar cane would supply the miller. Nothing has happened on that front.

In August, Oparanya said that Ugandan investors had shown interest in sinking billions in the revival of the company. 

Two weeks ago, National Assembly Majority Chief Whip Emmanuel Wangwe said that Oparanya's legacy will be the revival of the ailing sugar company.

(edited by o. owino)