The Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, the Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and other political leaders from that county who are opposed to the licensing of the Busia Sugar Industry factory to begin operations must be regarded as cheap politics and treated with the contempt it deserves.
The Senator and these leaders must also be told that they are completely and totally out of place wading into matters concerning another county government complete with its own senator and governor who know what is right for the county’s people.
Indeed Malala must confine himself to the troubled sugarcane issues plaguing Kakamega County with its three struggling sugar factories of which the giant Mumias Sugar in his own home backyard has been brought to its knees without him raising a finger.
Apart from that just like virtually every political leader from the western Kenya region, they kept a loud silent when sugarcane poaching triggered by West Kenya Sugar Company in Kakamega County hit the region into a major crisis for the crop from which it has never recovered.
“Where was the Senator and these Kakamega leaders to intervene in this matter? Where were they to save Mumias Sugar from virtual total collapse? Where were they to find permanent solutions to the hundreds of problems that are plaguing the sugar industry?”
The Senator was recently widely quoted by a large section of the local media as saying that the licensing of Busia Sugar Industry could be a recipe for chaos in the region, without mentioning the fact that the reigning chaos were triggered by West Kenya and he did and has done nothing.
Indeed what that statement reeks of is clearly that Malala is blowing the trumpet for West Kenya which has been viciously opposed to the licensing, the construction and commissioning of the BSI factory at Busibwabo in Matayos Sub-county of Busia County.
A company that has waged endless legal battles to try and stop the multi-billion shillings project simply because it is averse to competition and wants to maintain the chaotic state in which the sugar industry is in the region after triggering it.
Last week, the Agriculture ministry through the Sugar Directorate issued BSI with a license after years of legal battles with West Kenya. The award of the license to the sugar miller came after Deputy President William Ruto toured the factory and ordered for its immediate release.
The BSI agricultural manager Ambrose Abung’u said that the factory had contracted over 30,000 cane farmers and is expected to create 1,500 direct jobs once it becomes operational, leave alone the massive infrastructural development in that part of Busia County.
Malala said the decision to license the new miller was ill-advised and will have far-reaching effects on the sugar sector’s stability. That licensing of an additional miller when the industry is facing a serious deficit of raw materials will destabilise the industry in Western Kenya adding that the decision is going to make it difficult to carry out zoning. The task force on reviving the sugar sector will have to come up with recommendations that will protect public millers from unfair competition from privately-owned millers.
What the senator is not telling Kenyans is the fact that despite the endless legal battles, the Busia residents have been fighting to get a sugar or any other factory since independence since the county had no single factory whereas Kakamega and Bungoma had.
The fight was so bad over the years that they sacrificed selling their land to the government at Nasewa area for the construction of a sugar factory that never materialized until tomorrow or even next year for that matter.
As a matter of fact the initial proposal was that the ultra-modern diffuser facility which was installed at Mumias Sugar was to be constructed at this site as the biggest sugar factory in the country, and it later emerged that the politics of the Kakamega County leaders at that time interfered with the whole business.
That is why it ended up in Mumias with promises that either Mill “B” or “A” would be consigned to Busia to start up a factory for the first time ever, but that was never to happen until when the BSI came on the scene with all the seriousness to fulfill the dreams of the local residents for the factory.
Early this month, Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya was also widely quoted as saying that licensing new factories should be stopped to stabilise the sugar sector adding that the factories that exist already have a problem with raw materials and it’s only important that we first stabilise the existing millers instead of registering new ones.
What they are failing to tell Kenyans is that the whole problem for the scarcity of the raw material in the region was triggered by the West Kenya Sugar Company who engineered sugarcane poaching because it did not have any contracted farmers to supply the raw material like other millers in the region.
They are also failing to underscore the fact that even before BSI started constructing its facility; the first foremost programme it undertook was to contract more sugarcane farmers to supply the factory with the raw material.