Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City
DISCONTENT is high up among the sugar cane farmers in the Nyanza sugar belt over the seemingly endless official receivers management of two sugar companies.
Miwani Sugar Mill and Muhoroni Sugar Company Limited, all government owned parastatals, were placed under the official receivership management in April, 2001. The then Agriculture Minister, Chris Mogere Obure, said at the time that the two companies were to be under the joint official receivers for protective purposes. THe receivership for Miwani was to last for three months while the Muhoroni Sugar Company was to last for six months
In the case of the heavily indebted Miwani Sugar Mills, Obure said government was to appoint financial experts to write its books of accounts and offset its debts. Miwani was heavily indebted to banks, suppliers, cane farmers and workers to the tune of about Kshs 4 billon.
At the time, Miwani had planted cane crops in its 9,700 neucleus farm, which experts had estimated that when harvested, crushed into made sugar and sold would generate sufficiently enough cash money which could offset its debts.
HOWEVER, Reports making the round says that the resources of the two public companies were later subjected to massive vandalization of the highest order. Following the appointments and dismissals of team of joint receiver managers after the other.
And ever since 2001 year after years passed without any signs as to when the joint receivership management would be lifted. Miwani the oldest sugar factory I the country grounded to a halt and stopped crushing cane about five years ago, while the ailing Muhoroni Sugar Mills is still functioning, but and ailing and limping.
Muhoroni MP James Onyango K’Oyoo recently raised objection to the latest appointment of the joint receiver manager of persons of not well proved credibility who however, stood his ground
The songs about the privatization of the five government owned sugar companies have been in the air for the last two decades while the joint receiver managers have continued milking the resources of the two companies. The deals also involved the Kenya Sugar Board KSB}, which is the official regulating body in the sugar industry as well as the parent Ministry.
The appointment of joint official receivers is said to be attracting a lot of goodies, thus confirming allegations and claims that the two companies have since become the “milking cows” for some unscrupulous Ministry’s officials and board members.
The farmers in both Nyando and Muhoroni districts now want the government to expedite the privatization of Miwani and Muhoroni Sugar Companies.
Other rumors making the round within Kisumu and its environs the round within Kisumu and its environs is say that an influential and crafty entity is currently working in cahoots and clandestinely with the wealthy Indian business while targeting the Miwani’s 9,700 acres nucleus estate land for the grab. A source has confided to this writer that it won’t take long the farm which has been subject to a heated exchange between the farmers and the receiver managers as well as protracted legal tussle through courts between the wealthy Indian businessmen in Kisumu is grabbed by the politicians and his collaborators.
The residents of Kano plains and the surrounding rural location are now urging the government either to hand over the two sugar mills to credible investors altogether with their assets including farms. They are insisting that anybody interested in Miwani and Muhoroni Sugar Mills should be ready to invest in the two companies with their crucial land farms intact as it could only play pivotal role in boosting the economy of the region if they are resuscitated and floated for privatization to investors.
The Kano people as well as farmers in the Muhoroni, Chemelil, Kibios,Koru, Fort-Tennan and those farming in the surrounding Locations of South East and North East Kano, Miwani and Kibos. Anything short of this will not be tolerated by the stakeholders.
The farmers are now bold and want the government to kick out the official receiver managers out of Miwani and Muhoroni as their presence is undesirable. This is because their resources. Five sugar companies, which are still under the public investments included the Awendo-based Sony Sugar, Chemelil, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroi sugar companies.