Mumias staff accuse Sarrai Group of delayed payments, nepotism

Mumias Sugar Factory entrance. [File, Standard]

Mumias Sugar factory workers are demanding payment of Sh2.3 billion shillings from Sarrai Group, a Ugandan-based company mandated to manage the operations of the miller.

The workers’ address at Mumias town comes a fortnight since they protested over the delay of salary payment.

In a press conference on Monday, October 31, Mumias Sugar Factory Workers Association Chairman Patrick Mutimba also accused the Ugandan-based company of hiring Ugandans and Indians at the expense of locals.

‘’Sarrai Group should know that Kenyans who steered Mumias to its glory are here demanding their balances,’’ Mutimba said.

In addition, the workers are demanding that Sarrai Group and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) initiate the process of settling their arrears amounting to Sh2.3billion.

Mutimba has also accused the Receiver Manager of KCB, PVR Rao, of refusing to meet them after handing over the factory to Sarrai Group.

“The remarks by Sarrai Group Head of Operations Mr. Kihumba that we deal with the Receiver Manager are out of order. Why is Mr. Kihumba directing us to Receiver Manager when his boss said would pay all the creditors?” he poses a question.

While addressing the media this morning, the workers called on the leadership in Kakamega County to intervene and help them solve the dispute amicably.

‘’We do have families that must be fed just like other Kenyans. We are appealing to political leaders from Kakamega not to keep quiet when a factory worth Sh15 billion with so many assets is taken by Sarrai at less than Sh 5 billion,’’…. Vitalis Makokha - Mumias Sugar Factory Workers Supervisor said.

Days ago, the workers had staged demonstrations over delayed payment running into months.

That was shortly after Sarrai Group was cleared to resume operations at Mumias Sugar Company.

This was after the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended a High Court decision to stop the firm from running the miller which has been troubled for years.

In April, High Court judge Alfred Mabeya canceled the 20-year-lease granted to Sarrai and instead, appointed Kereto Marima as the administrator.

That was pending a process to pick a new company to lease the Mumias plant. The miller was placed under receivership by KCB Group in 2019 over mounting debts.

KCB argued that its rights as secured creditors will diminish if Mr Marima’s actions pursuant to his appointment have not stayed.

“Indeed, they fear that they may not be able to recover the securities. To our mind, these fears are not idle,” appellate judges Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed, and Sankale ole Kantai said.

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