Ruto asks billionaire Rai brothers to 'pack up and leave'

President William Ruto,  National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, among other Western leaders, at Nzoia Sugar Company, August 28, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

President William Ruto has vowed to dismantle cartels, causing confusion in the sugar sub-sector.

A tough-talking Ruto has demanded that two investors fighting over control of Mumias sugar company must cease, pack up and move out.

They are billionaire Jaswant Rai, the owner of West Kenya Sugar Company and his tycoon brother Sarbjit Singh Rai, owner of Uganda-based Sarrai Group which took over the management of Mumias Sugar company about one year ago.

"We have told those people (Jaswant and Sarbit) to move out.  Mumias belongs to the people and we shall plan for the revival of the sugar mill afresh," said the head of state.

He said the government will no longer entertain cases lodged in court at the expense of the revival of the sugar factory.

"Let them withdraw the court case and move out. I have told them there are only three options left, they either move out, go to jail or embark on the journey to heaven," said Ruto amid cheers from the crowd that had gathered to hear from him in Mumias West.

Ruto, who is on a five-day tour of Western, said cartels have frustrated the government agenda to revive Mumias sugar company.

Jaswant Rai moved to court contesting the lease arrangement and the manner in which Mumias Sugar Company was handed over to his brother.

President Ruto appeared to ignore pleas from Mumias East MP Peter Salasya and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale to spare Sarrai Group and deal with Jaswant Rai who they accused of being behind a litany of court cases that have literally stalled plans to revamp Mumias Sugar Company.

Dr Khalwale claimed the cases had made it difficult for Sarrai Group to run a co-gen project and ethanol production plant at Mumias Sugar Company.

"We have one Asian who has lodged cases in court seeking to stop Mumias Sugar from operating both co-gen and the Ethanol plants, intervene and have the cases withdrawn," Khalwale told the president.