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Butali licence to stay, Ruto assures sugarcane farmers

WESTERN
By Grace Wekesa | Nov 8th 2014 | 2 min read

Deputy President William Ruto had sweet news for Kakamega County residents after assuring them that the licence given to Butali Sugar Company will not be revoked.

The Deputy President assured farmers and the management of the Kakamega-based sugar company that the government will ensure the licence is operationalised.

Speaking at the firm yesterday during the launch of a Sh429 million infrastructure project meant to open up roads in Butali sugar zone, Mr Ruto said licensing of millers was a responsibility of the government and not the courts.

“The licensing matter directed by the Court of Appeal to the sugar directorate to arbitrate, is the government’s responsibility. We shall deal with it accordingly,” he said.

The DP’s statement throws a spanner in the works as the issue of revocation of the firm’s licence is a longstanding legal battle between the West Kenya Sugar Company and the Kabras-based miller, which has been dragging in court since 2005.

GOOD NEWS

In September this year, the Court of Appeal in Kisumu referred the case to a tribunal, to decide whether the company will continue its operations or close down. Ruto’s declaration is good news to the more than 2,500 workers of the Butali Sugar Company. Kakamega Deputy Governor Phillip Kutima, who represented the governor, welcomed the DP’ s announcement.

Meanwhile, the roads project will ease cane transportation and reduce the cost of production to the miller. Ruto also put on notice suspected sugar barons who have thrown the sugar industry in disarray and paralysed operations of cane growers. However, the DP said the local sugar industry must brace for competition from sugar producing countries within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trading bloc since Kenya is a signatory to the pact.

“We shall not allow cheap imports to flood our markets but we must give Comesa partners an opportunity to sell their commodities in Kenya as we do in their countries,’’ he noted.

Butali Sugar Managing Director Sanje Patel said the firm had rolled out a massive cane development programme to address the problem of raw material scarcity.

“The machinery we have unveiled today intends to improve road network in our sugar growing zones for the benefit of our farmers,’’ said Patel.

Politicians from the region who accompanied the DP called for a marshal plan that will provide a road map towards revamping the ailing sugar industry.

Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi said sugar remains the region’s economic main stay and the industry needs to be stabilised.

Also present were MPs Alfred Sambu, Benjamin Washiali, Dan Wanyama, David Were and former Housing Minister Soita Shitanda.

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