Chimneys spewed a cloud of white smoke on Sunday evening, August 7, 2022, as Nzoia Sugar Company, which had been closed down for close to three months for routine maintenance, roared back to life.
The sugar factory was closed down on May 19, and many worn-out parts, including leaking pipes and boilers, were replaced.
“We are in the process of blowing out the steam to help remove impurities from the system, thereafter we shall embark on cane milling,” Managing Director Chrispine Omondi told journalists at the factory on Monday.
“When the turbines are running efficiently, we are able to generate our own electricity and that cuts the cost of production. Initially, we were spending between Sh8 million and Sh9 million on electricity per month. However, that is going to reduce by at least Sh3.5 million,” said the sugar firm boss.
Omondi said that before the renovations, producing a 50kg bag of sugar would cost them Sh8,500 against a market price of Sh5,300, translating into losses.
“But that is going to reduce substantially, maybe by over Sh3,000, so we can realise some margin of profit,” said Omondi.
He said the company has spent Sh235 million to pay farmers who had delivered sugarcane to the factory. Most of the 14,000 farmers (60 per cent) have been paid, according to the MD.
“Farmers who did not receive their dues on Friday and our staff who have gone without pay for over 14 months will be paid today. We are hoping to start milling on Wednesday,” said Omondi. He said the sugar miller is already collecting raw materials in readiness for milling.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, who inspected the factory on Monday, August 8, said he was impressed with the progress that has been made. “With the overhaul, we are guaranteed of increased production, from 1,000 tons of cane per day to 2,000 tons of cane per day.”