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Governors gang up to back leasing of factories

By Kepher Otieno | Aug 22nd 2020 | 2 min read
By Kepher Otieno | August 22nd 2020

Fourteen governors from counties that constitute the Lake Region Economic bloc (LREB) want the government to expedite the leasing of five State-owned sugar factories.

They pointed out that the move was critical because farmers were suffering and there was absolutely no justification to delay the process.

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati started the debate when he declared that some politicians were using farmers to derail the process.

‘’We fought hard and even went to the president to bail out the sugar factories. The State then waived Sh62 billion debts to fast track the process. Why should we stall it now,’’ he posed.

The leaders supported Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, who last weekend castigated critics of the leasing terming them ‘enemies of farmers and development.’

Raila asked the organisations that represent farmers with any petition pending or in court to withdraw such cases forthwith and address the issues with relevant authorities amicably.

Yesterday, the leaders from LREB declared that they will firmly support leasing of the State-owned factories currently facing financial ruin.

The firms include Miwani, Muhoroni, Chemelil, Sony and Nzoia.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also the Council of Governors chairman, revealed that the team had reached out to all dissenting voices.

‘’We have reached out to these people and they have withdrawn litigation against leasing. Going forward we will meet the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya to address their raised concerns,’’ said Oparanya.

Also in attendance were governors Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Wilber Otttichillo (Vihiga), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), and Stephen Sang (Nandi).

Others were Nyamira Governor John Nyangarama, his Bomet counterpart Hilary Barchok, a host of deputy governors and County Assembly Speakers and LREB CEO Abala Wanga.

Speaking in Kisumu during the launch of LREB Funds and Resource Mobilisation and Advisory Committee, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said the government was serious to bail out the sugar firms.

‘’We have engaged the forward gear and we don’t want to be pulled back by people going to courts or petitioning the leasing. This could only jeopardise the good process,’’ said Wamalwa.

He said already, CS Munya has formed a team to oversee the leasing and those who want to be part of it can only be co-opted. 

The factories, according to Munya, are to be leased for at least 25 years.

Already, they have invited international bids and several local and international firms with demonstrated capacity to run the factories have applied for consideration on merit.

They include Mehta Group, Kibos Sugar, Butali Sugar Mills, Mini Bakeries and Kuguru Food Complex, China CAMC Engineering Company Limited, and Shenzhen Start Instruments.

The firms are expected, if successful, to oversee the revival of the factories.

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