Cane crushing in Mumias Sugar Company may start in December after President William Ruto promised to form team to consider Sh39 billion debts write off.
This emerged after Kakamega governor Fernandes Barasa on Saturday morning led MPs to pay president William Ruto a courtesy call in Nairobi.
Barasa said the was to plead with the president to write off the debt and also push for the region's growth.
“We are aware of cabinet approval of Sh117 billion debts owed by five state factories which did not include Mumias Sugar. President is going to have a specific team to look at the issue of debt of the factory to ensure it starts operations from December 1, so that farmers are paid once they deliver sugarcane,” said Barasa.
The leaders were on Saturday upbeat that former sugar milling giant Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) will be back to its former glory.
The meeting comes ahead of the president's visit to the County next week. At a media briefing, the leaders said president's was timely.
Barasa, whop was also accompanied by Senator Boni Khalwale said: “Under the revival plan the government is going to support the company in cane development and ensure that the factory is run sustainably.”
Barasa who recently led the Lake region bloc leaders in a sugar conference to discuss the sub-sector’s revival was accompanied with among others MPs Nabii Nabwera (Lugari), Innocent Mugabe (Likuyani), Johnson Naicca (Mumias West), Benard Shinali (Ikolomani) and Titus Khamala (Lurambi).
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The others were Christopher Aseka (Khwisero), Malulu Injendi (Malava), Tindi Mwale (Butere), Fred Ikana (Shinyalu) and Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) the brain behind the revolutionary Sugar Bill, a legislation that fronts for debt write off in the sugar sub-sector and streamlining of its operations.
Khalwale said that the Bill currently at the senate had some controversial sections especially to do with zoning which the senate would iron out for the good of farmers.
“We are quite pleased to announce to our people that from next month they will be free to sell their cane to Mumia Sugar company, West Kenya, Nzoia and so on. We want to do the contentious zoning so that even as we pass the law of zoning it doesn’t hurt any particular zone or milling factory,” he said.
“We have had Kabras Sugar and Butali sugar advertise their new cane buying rates and we hope that once Mumias Sugar comes back on board, they will learn from the rest and come up with new rates,” Khalwale said.
The sentiments of the leaders come in the wake of a four month’s shut down of milling in western Kenya for lack of mature cane to crush, a thing that is wont to occur soon if the factories in the region pay little attention to cane development.
The companies were shut by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) when sugarcane scarcity had forced millers to buy a ton at historic high of Sh5,500 down from Sh3,500 in the previous year.
The new price tag for a ton as the companies are scheduled to resume full capacity crushing in December is between Sh6,000 to Sh6,500 all attributed to sugarcane scarcity.
Wangwe (ODM) has been on record thanking the president for whipping his MPs to pass his private member Sugar Bill that will among other things reintroduce the sugar development Levy, a sum that went to helping farmers grow the crop.
The Kakamega leaders negotiations with the president also revolved around the completion of Sh6.2 billion Kakamega Level (IV) hospital; the national government will ensure equipping and operationalization of the facility.
The first phase of the 750-bed capacity hospital was worth Sh2.5 billion, however the contractor raised 50 interim payment certificates for work done totalling Sh1.9 billion.
Once completed, it will serve not only residents of Kakamega County but the entire former Western region since it will be the only level 6 hospital in the area.
Further, the team agreed that the National Government shall oversee expansion of the current airstrip by allocating 300 acres of Shikusa Prison’s land to Kenya Airports Authority.
“This means we shall relocate the Kakamega airport from its current location Muranda to Shikusa project subject to professional advice from the relevant bodies; Kenya Civil Airport Authority and National Environment Management Authority," said Barasa.
On the upgrade of the county’s biggest sporting facility Bukhungu Stadium, Barasa said :
“We are very happy that we have been earmarked to host Africa Cup of Nations in 2027 and one of the agreement this morning with the president is to support the county to ensure that Bukhungu is a national stadium.”