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2Oct/100

Kenya: Trouble is brewing at the Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation based in Kisumu City

Business and Economic News By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

The Luo Thrift and Trading Company Limited, a private enterprise which has been the community’s trading flagship for close to six decades is on the verge of collapse.

Also known as Ramogi Trading Corporation, the company which owns several prime business building in Kisumu Central Business District {CBD} is said to be in land rent arrears running into million shillings.

Established as a trading company with limited liability in the early 1940s by the defunct Luo Union East Africa under the leadership of the Ker Jaramogi Oginga Odinga with the shareholders money contributed by members of the Luo community all over East Africa, the Luo Thrift and Trading Company was for many years the pride of the community.

At its inception, shareholders were told that only their grand children would benefit from its dividends and other fringe benefits, but generation after generations have come and gone without reaping from its profits, something which is causing alot of anxiety within the Luo community

The firm put up one magnificent building at the junction of Makasembo / Acra Street which is known as Africa House, and which for years served as the nerve center of both business and political operations of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The company was also the first one to put up another important business premises at Maseno, which was for years known as Maseno Stores. It later extended its operations into Rural Luo Nyanza by building several posho mills and conducting other business activities.

Luo Thrift also bought a large scale sugar cane farm to wit approximately 430 acres at Miwani sugar cane farming zone..

Although it traded and operated exclusively as shareholders company, it is believed that the late Jaramogi had slashed some of its profits and used the money accrued from its earning in paying school fees for hundreds of destitute children and those from poor families, and at times as well as even sponsoring those who were studying at the various universities both locally and abroad. This he did so only after persuading the shareholders into sacrificing their annual dividends. The good gesture made the company became most popular within the community, which loosely referred to it as the Luos “Milking Cow”.

A report reaching us says that shareholders have been demanding for a meeting of the directors in vain. The current Managing Director Mzee Edward Adera Osawa is said to be virtually inaccessible to the shareholders. The company is minting close to Kshs 300,00 earning from its rented premises, and ye it owed the Kisumu Municipal Council the colossal amount of money to the tune of KSHS 912,878 in unpaid land rent areas plus penalties, according to the Council demand note dated 30th September 2010.

The company has four registered directors. They are Mr Akongo Arara, Okumu Wandei and Ater Odundo with Mzee Adera Osawa as its managing director. And despite of collecting monthly rents of close to Kshs 300,000 its employees, it is being alleged have gone for months without salary. It has about five employees, mainly those maintaining the buildings. It used to operate a full fledged printing press at the backyard of the Afrika House, but the printing machines have since been dismantled and kept in stores waiting to be sold as second hand after being idle for years.

Our source says that when the former Managing Director the late Dr.Okeyo died some years back, he left the company in a sounding feet financially with a fat bank account reading at about Kshs 600,000, but the company is now almost insolvent.

The share holders are up in arm accusing Mzee Adera OIewe of using the company as his personal enterprise and that the shareholders are in total darkness as far as the title deed and registration certificates of the two buildings in Kisumu. Nobody knew where the monthly rents goes, and are demanding auditing report within one month.

Mzee Adera Osawa who of late has featured prominently in the news as the deputy chairman of the Luo Council of Elders who is supporting the ousted group of the former Ker Meshak Riaga Ogalo could not be reached immediately. He was said to have travelled to his rural home in Central Sakwa Location, Awendo Division I Awendo district.

Other complaints against the MD it is being alleged that he spent his most valuable times in the affairs of the Luo Council of Elders at the expense of Luo Thrift and Trading Company Ltd. It is further being alleged that the managers only make cosmetic appearance at the end of the month, but immediately vanished after collecting rents from the company’s tenants.

A disgusted shareholder from Yala in Gem stated thatr he had acquired thre share certificate which was left in custody by his late father who died in February 1994, Mr Fredrick M Oriwo Odunga attached a photo copy of his late father’s share certificate sating back to January 1952. He said he wished to know if the company issuing any dividend, because his father had received nothing ever since 1952 to the date oif death in 1994.

Mr Oriwo Odunga wanted to know the stats of his father shares in the com any and if there has been any dividends declared since he died without receiving any. His late father was Mr John Odunga. Similar complaints have been heard from all over Luo-Nyanza.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com’

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