President Uhuru Kenyatta has been forced to intervene in the protracted legal battles that have over the last three years plagued and stalled the construction of the first multi-billion shillings sugar factory in Busia County.
The factory is being constructed at Busibwabo in Matayos sub-county by Busia Sugar Industries, but since its inception has been plagued by legal battles attempting to stop its construction engineered by a competitor West Kenya Sugar Company.
Speaking in Nambale town of Nambale sub-county President Kenyatta said: “I am personally going to reach out to the two investors to withdraw the pending cases in the law courts against each other for the good of the people and progress in development.”
He was on the campaign trail in Busia County to drum up support for his Jubilee administration to be voted in for a second term. The trail saw him address campaign rallies at Bunyala,Funyula,Matayos,Bumala,Nambale and Amagoro in Teso North in the county accompanied by his Deputy William Ruto and other Jubilee leaders from the region.
He told politicians and other personalities who were misadvising the duo to stop playing politics in the sugar industry and in the process adversely affecting the development of the sugar industry in the region to the detriment of the sugarcane farmers and consumers of the commodity.
On the attempts by the Kibos Sugar Company of Kisumu’s attempts to construct a sugarcane weighbridge in Nambale town on a public utility land owned by the Nambale ginnery, the President warned that stern action will be taken by the government against those attempting such actions.
“How can a company with a sugar factory as far away as Kisumu come here to construct a sugarcane weigh bridge in an area where it does not have a single farmer contracted to supply it with the raw material. Those attempting to grab public utility land here will be dealt with mercilessly?” he said.
For more than five years today, the sugar industry in the former Western province has been crippled by a strangulating sugarcane poaching crisis triggered by the West Sugar Company which has a factory at Kabras area of Kakmega County.
It started first by raiding sugarcane from farmers contracted to Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County immediately followed by those contracted to the giant Mumias Sugar Company in Kakamega and Busia Counties since it had no contracted farmers to supply it with the raw material.
These poaching raids have since seen West Kenya illegally construct a sugar factory on a piece of land it had originally acquired for a sugarcane weigh bridge for poached cane at Olepito area in Teso South sub-county without license from the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) and clearance from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) is required by law.
These developments have since seen Mumias Sugar’s performance plummet to rock bottom consistently each and every financial year for the last five years as it continues to reel from persistent sugarcane supplies starvation.
The head of state said the government through the ministry of agriculture is liaising with foreign companies to secure fast maturing cotton seed for farmers to start growing cotton in the region and other parts of the country to revive the grounded textile factories in the country.
Some of the major grounded textile factories in the region include Rivatex and Raymond’s in Eldoret of Uasin Gishu County and Kisumu Cotton Mills located in Kisumu City of Kisumu County.
He said: “These factories when revived will provide a ready market for the cotton farmers’ produce which generate for them a regular income that will improve their lives.”
President Kenyatta announced that his government had plans to tarmac the Nambale – Butula road as well as that of Matayos – Nangina roads which are key links between Nambale and Butula counties on one hand and the other Matayos and Funyula sub-counties of Busia County whose construction is supposed to start very soon.
He appealed to the Busia County residents to shun divisive politics but instead embrace his administration for development and give it a second term at the August 8th general elections.