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Job loss fears as Kisumu factory shut down by Nema

By Kepher Otieno | March 8th 2020

Kibos Sugar Company in Kisumu County. [File]

About 4,500 workers risk losing their jobs after the National Environment Management Authority, (Nema) shut down Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries Ltd (KSAIL).

Nema made an impromptu visit on Friday and ordered the immediate closure of the factory in Kisumu County over alleged pollution of the environment.

Nema Acting Director General Mamo Boru said the company’s  factories  were passing untreated effluent into River Kibos, which is used by thousands of local families.

KSAIL however termed the decision as harsh and taken “in total disregard of the ripple effects on the local economy”.’

Managing Director Sukwinder Raju said they will now have to lay off employees.

“We make between Sh400 to Sh500 million in a month. If the factories are closed, it means we will have no money to pay the workers. They will go home,” he told Weekend Business yesterday.

He said they would have to release the workers in the meantime so that they do not accrue monthly wage bills that they could not pay.

“We can’t keep the workers now and accumulate monthly wage bills which we will not pay, thus attracting serious industrial litigation,’’ Mr Raju said.

Air quality

The Friday decision was taken after the sugar firm was accused by Nema of defying air quality regulations of 2014 and to comply with other such orders.

The order will affect all associated KSAIL factories, including a distillery, paper plant, gas plant and sugar miller that are run by the same group of Indian investors.

Nema said it did an ambient air quality monitoring which revealed a  high concentration of particulate matter above the national air quality standard.

KSAIL were found to have 245 micrometers, five times more than the internationallyaccepted standard of 50 micrometers.

Mr Mamo said KSAIL had failed to comply with the regulations even after Nema gave them a 30-day notice to comply, within which they did not do anything to improve air quality. 

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