Disputes stand in the way of Busia Sugar operations

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. [Photo, File]

Disagreements between sugar industries stand in the way of a miller recently issued an operating licence.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala recently said licensing of Busia Sugar was ill-advised.

Western Development Initiative Association chairman Joseph Baraza on Wednesday dismissed the claims, saying while the Government is out to help farmers, Malala is politicising the matter.

Speaking when he toured the miller recently, Deputy President William Ruto said the Government would not sit back and watch as 18,000 farmers contracted by Busia Sugar continue to suffer. More than 1,500 people expected to be employed by the factory are denied the opportunity.

Some Kakamega politicians are on record as saying opening up Busia Sugar will collapse neighbouring millers. Malala said not all counties in Western need a sugar miller.

Busia businessman and farmer Kaka Hussein on Wednesday said, “This miller is not here for politics but to serve all farmers, whether from Kakamega, Busia or wherever.”

The fight between West Kenya and Busia Sugar companies was expected to come to an end after Ruto directed the latter to start operations.

The two millers are located barely 10km apart. Busia Sugar is based at Busibwabo in Matayos while West Kenya is located at Olepito in Teso South constituency.

The companies have been embroiled in a legal tussle that has seen the Sh5 billion Busia Sugar factory delay to start crushing cane.

“Malala should stick to matters affecting Kakamega County and stay away from Busia,” Baraza said.

Farmer Ibrahim Juma said he is happy the long wait had ended. “We have suffered a lot and waited for the opening of the factory for long, but finally the Government has come to our rescue,” he said.

Busia farmers delivered cane to Mumias Sugar Company almost two years ago and are yet to be paid.

Busia Sugar, which can process 3,000 tonnes of cane per day, will be officially opened on December 12 in an event to be officiated by Opposition chief Raila Odinga.