President Uhuru Kenyatta is reportedly destined for an official visit to Western Region ostensibly to launch or open government financed multi-million shillings projects with many burning questions demanding for his answers.
The most burning questions are why he is comfortably flirting with Taj Rai the owners of West Kenya Sugar Company or Kabras Millers when he has literally ruined the County’s only economic backbone – sugarcane farming?
Why President Kenyatta can tolerate Taj Rai when his company is abusing the law with impunity by illegally constructing a sugar factory at Olepito on the Busia – Mumias highway without license from the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA), the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and other government agencies?
Why when the same group is constructing that factory in total disregard of the regulations governing the construction of sugar factories outside a 47 square kilometre radius by constructing the illegal Olepito factory within the radius reserved for the licensed Busia Sugar Industries which was mandated by the authorities to build its sugar factory at Busibwabo less than 12 kilometers from Olepito?
The President must also explain why he is entertaining Taj Rai when he has openly sabotaged the legal construction of the Busia Sugar Industries sugar factory through crooked litigations using bribed third parties?
What measures is he going to take to protect Busia Sugar Industries’ factory’s operations in Busia County since it is the only first processing or manufacturing factory to ever be constructed in the county since independence despite the residents having cried for one for over 50 decades?
Why when the same fellow engineered the sugarcane poaching crisis in the region which has crippled the operations of the other sugar companies in the region led by the country’s leading miller Mumias Sugar Company, followed by Nzoia Sugar Company and Butali Sugar Company all in Kakamega and Bungoma counties?
What plans does the President have to ensure that sugarcane poaching is completely eradicated from the Western Kenya region? That is considering the fact that it is killing the region’s economic backbone including having left scores of innocent people killed in violence associated with the poaching crisis including a police officer.
What justification can President Kenyatta grant Busia, Kakamega and Bungoma Counties residents and leaders for being the architect who brokered the selling of the Pan Paper Mills factory in Webuye which he is set to commision tomorrow 14th December 2016 at a throw away price to Taj Rai when the same man’s Raiply Company sabotaged Pan Paper to collapse?
Why did he fail to waive of the company’s Kshs. 600 million debt to Kenya Power and Lighting Company a state Corporation like he did waive the central Kenya coffee farmers’ debts of more than Ksh. 4 billion to commercial banks instead of selling the company to businessmen of questionable backgrounds and operations?
The President should also detail to the Busia County residents what his government plans to do in revitalising or rejuvenating the cotton farming industry and how much it is ready to invest in the rejuvenation and sustenance of the sub-sector if there are any such plans?
According to official government sources, the President is expected to officially open the Busia County branch of the Agricultural Farmers Corporation (AFC) bank in Busia town, a corporation which is ironically headed by Lucas Meso from the Butula Sub-County in Busia.
The other expected function is the commissioning the tarmacking of the Busia – Malaba road which successive governments right from the retired Presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki failed to act upon – forcing the County government to use its own resources to maintain a major road that is squarely under the responsibility of the national government.
This is a major road that the administrations of Moi and Kibaki promised to construct a tarmac road year in year out, particularly during general elections years, but once the lections was over everything was forgotten thus reducing it to an impassable trail full of potholes and gullies.
It remains to be seen whether this time round President Kenyatta’s official flagging off its construction is going to pass whether the general elections for which he is hunting for votes in his favour is just around the corner next year – then the construction stalls.
That said and done the fact remains that the most critical issue for the county’s residents is their economic backbone – sugarcane farming which is facing serious threats that could consign it to extinction like its predecessor cotton farming that suffered that fate due to the malpractices of powerful personalities like Taj Rai who had a stranglehold on the sub-sector.
Therefore, it is paramount to the county residents and leaders that President Kenyatta should in his itinerary include the official opening of The Busia Sugar Industries’ sugar factory at Busibwabo being the only officially legal facility to be constructed in the county to shore up the peoples’ economic backbone.
Indeed the construction of the facility is supposed to have been completed by mid this year but the persistent constant litigations engineered by the proprietors of West Sugar Company through underhand deals to protect their illegal operations in the county delayed its completion.
The other critical issue that the leaders and the residents of the county will be wanting President Kenyatta to explain is why he is only spearheading to advance loans to indebted institutions from the region and not waiving off these loans including to those owed by farmers like he recently did during his tour in his home backyard of central province.
Indeed President Kenyatta’s double standards and hoodwinking of the Western Kenya voters was exposed recently when he ordered a debt waiver of more than Kshs. 4.4 billion for coffee farmers in Central Kenya.
While in Western Kenya’s Bungoma County recently President Kenyatta expedited and presided over the selling of the more than Kshs. 15 billion Pan-Paper Mills factory in Webuye at a throw away price and hoodwinked sugarcane farmers in western region with a token loan of Kshs. 2 billion to Mumias sugar company.
During his recent official tour of Central Kenya he publicly announced that his government was going to waive coffee farmers’ debts amounting into billions of shillings that they owed financial institutions but on the contrary during his last tours of Western Kenya the money he released to salvage the beleaguered giant Mumias Sugar Company was a loan from the Kenya Sugar Board.
The Central Kenya President’s tour in Murang’a County alone he waived off coffee farmers’ debts to the tune of more than Kshs. 2.4 billion and the story does not stop there since coffee farmers in other counties were also showered with debt relief.
Indeed President Kenyatta has also written off Kshs. 2 billion coffee debts during his Kirinyaga tour of that county – Uhuru asked the farmers to collect the title deeds they had deposited offered as security.
He was widely quoted as saying that: “I urge farmers whose debts have been written off to use any credit they receive to develop their farms and not spend it on frivolous pursuits.” Speaking while addressing Kirinyaga residents, the President urged the farmers to take back their title deeds that were tied to the loans.
The writing off of the debts comes after farmers petitioned Uhuru to ensure all the debts are settled, terming them a huge drawback to better returns. In July, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the government set aside Kshs. 700 million to scrap off the debts which will free farmers who have been losing money every season repaying the loans. The loans were accumulated decades ago when coffee farming faced hurdles.
The National Debt Write-off Programme was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, then Finance minister, in December 2011 but ironically the sugarcane farmers’ and related institutions’ debts have never been waived by the government.