Court gives green light for leasing of 5 sugar companies

Police officers on guard at Muhoroni Sugar Company, 2018. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The High Court in Nairobi has cleared the way for government to lease out five sugar companies.

The verdict by Justice Hedwig Ong’undi clears the way for leasing out of Chemilil Sugar Company Limited, Miwani Sugar Company Limited (under receivership), Muhoroni Sugar Company Limited (under receivership), Nzoia Sugar Company Limited and South Sugar Company Limited.

The judge dismissed a case filed by Nzuki Musyoki, who argued that Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) has no powers to call for bidders to lease the sugar millers.

According to Justice Ong’undi, the petitioner had jumped the gun, as he was required to file a case before the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) before he approaches the court. 

“My finding is that the petitioner prematurely came to this court by avoiding the set down procedure under the Act, hence not conforming to the doctrine of exhaustion. The board has the power to award costs. Therefore, there is nothing that the board would have failed to grant the petitioner if he was successful,” she said.

The government owns majority shares in the five millers.

Initially, the government sought to privatise the millers by selling its 51 per cent stake in each, but this faced opposition twice. Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo filed the first petition.

The government backed its decision to sell the millers on an agreement between the 21 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa States to open their borders for sugar trade.