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Linturi says new rules to end theft of cane at weighbridges

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 Trucks loaded with sugarcane from Nyando sugar belt camping outside West Kenya's Miwani weighbridge in Kisumu county on September 3, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has said that his ministry is in the process of drafting regulations to provide for the management of weighbridges to ensure fairness in sugarcane weighing.

Linturi who appeared before the Senate plenary to answer questions said that to reduce the cost of sugarcane transport for farmers, several sugar companies have set up cane-buying centres where cane is aggregated before being transported to the sugar mills.

The Cabinet Secretary said farmers and transporters deliver cane  to the buying centres where it is weighed in their presence and then offloaded before being loaded into bigger lorries that ferry it to the mills at the millers' expense. 

“I am not aware of the existence of syndicates engaged in theft of cane at the weighbridges and buying centres The accuracy of weighbridges is the responsibility of the Weights and Measures Department,” said Linturi.

He was responding to a question from Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda who had sought confirmation on the presence of syndicates engaged in the theft of cane at weighbridges while in transit to sugar factories and the impact of such activities on farmers.

Linturi said that he has directed the Agriculture and Food Authority and the Sugar Directorate to investigate the allegations of the theft of cane and make recommendations if malpractices are detected.

The CS told the Senate that the terms of service for State Corporations Managing Directors is contractual and renewable based on performance in response to a question from Prof Ojienda.

Linturi said the State-owned Muhoroni, Miwani, Nzoia, Chemelil and Sony. Currently, Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies are under the management of receiver managers who are appointed by the Cabinet Secretary.

“The contractual terms and conditions of managing directors of State-owned sugar companies are provided by the Human Resource Instruments of the respective companies, Mwongozo and State Corporations Acts,” he said.

Ojienda also sought to know what measures the government has put in place to ensure effective oversight of the Board of Directors of State-owned sugar companies, particularly the appointment and dismissal of managing directors, to ensure that they adhere to the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Linturi told the Senate that the sugar companies have human resource instruments which guide the appointment and dismissal of managing directors with Induction training for the newly appointed Board of Directors.

The CS said the induction training covers management issues of State corporations besides the oversight function and mandate of the Board of Directors who are also taught the principles of governance, transparency and accountability.

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