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Francis Atwoli backs closure of cane factories

By Luke Anami | Nov 18th 2013 | 2 min read

By Luke Anami

Kakamega, Kenya: The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli now wants Butali and West Kenya sugar companies de-registered.

The Cotu Secretary General differed with Lugari MP Ayub Savula and former Cabinet Minister Soita Shitanda over the existence of the two sugar companies. He said the two have been stealing cane from Mumias sugar zone leading to the poor performance of Mumias Sugar Company Limited.

“Mumias was performing very well until the existence of the two sugar companies. Both West Kenya and Butali should be de-registered as they are responsible for its near collapse,” Atwoli said.

Speaking during a fundraiser at Chekalini Secondary School in Lugari constituency the fiery trade unionist supported the planned move by members of the National Assembly to de-register Butali saying the acquisition of its licence is suspect.

“Anyone supporting the existence of the two factories is encouraging corruption. Mumias can employ and support over 200,000 people if allowed to thrive without unfair competition practices,” Atwoli explained.

He took issue with Butali for failing to employ workers on permanent basis.

“Why should anyone support the existence of a factory that employs only casuals? If they were serious about creating employment, they should have employed hundreds of jobless youth who throng their premises every day in search of casual labour,” he said.

But Hon Savula differed with Atwoli saying Butali should be allowed to operate as the amount of cane in Kabras and Lugari areas was sufficient to warrant its existence.

Defend factory

“There is a lot of sugarcane in Lugari stretching all the way to Uasin Gishu County. Both West Kenya and Butali should be allowed to crush the cane,” said Savula who hosted the fundraiser that raised over Sh1.8 million to help the school pay over Sh2 million in debt.

Over the weekend, farmers contracted to Butali vowed to block its de-registration. During a meeting at Butali market, Shitanda vowed to defend the factory.

“The Government should not harass investors from this region. It is wrong for Parliament to summon private investors to parliamentary committees and threaten to withdraw their licences,” Shitanda said.

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