Posts by Musa:
The Facts have clearly emerged that the Rai Group are a very dangerous and deadly entity to the development and sustenance of the country’s troubled multi-billion shillings sugar industry where stakes are very high.
Stakes are staggering in the sense the cheap imports of sugar that translates into billions of shillings when the local market is demanding for more than million tones when local millers cannot produce even more than 600, 000 tonnes annually – So who is going to dictate the market prices and pocket billions of shillings in the same period?
Though fairly newcomers in the industry, they already have multi-billion shillings interests in the sector including the smuggling or illegally importing sugar into the country and getting away with it because of their powerful connections in the government.
They are already on record having been boosted storing sugar smuggled into the Country worth billions of shillings at the dead multi-billion shillings biggest paper milling warehouses plant Pan-Paper Mills which they bought at a throw away price in Bungoma County.
Cheated that were going to put it back into production after systematically, consistently and ruthlessly undermining the facility to bring it to its knees complete with President Uhuru Kenyatta officiating – but nearly five years down the road Pan-Paper remains dead.
With Rai Group’s entry in the country’s sugar industry the signals of its doom came loud and clear when they masterminded and ruthlessly executed the sugarcane poaching pandemic that brought the industry to its knees and brought the country’s ultra modern giant miller Mumias Sugar Company tumbling to a halt to date.
The poaching crisis did not just hit sugar companies in the western Kenya region but also those in the Nyanza region where even under-age cane was poached destined for the Rai Group’s factory formerly known as West Kenya Sugar Company bought from the Biku Patel family and re-named Kabras Millers or Sugar in Kabras area of Kakamega County.
The dooms day conspiracy against the country’s sugar industry continues to unfold because just a few days after word erupted that the National Intelligence Security (NIS) had raised concerns about how Jaswant Rai had ensnared Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya, the CS issued a statement banning Brown sugar imports, banning of raw sugarcane imports from the neighbouring Uganda.
At the same time Munya also publicly declared the government’s intentions to lease all its 5 sugar factories. They are Muhoroni, Chemilil, SONY, Nzoia and Miwani after consistent failures to privatize them over the years.
What is now clearly emerging is the fact that all the three factors were crafted to favour the Rai and his accomplices.
In the very first instance concerning the banning of brown sugar imports, the CS’s move appeared to be a well calculated move keeping in mind that in 2018/19 there were reports that Rai Group and others had imported hundreds of thousands of metric tonnes of illegal sugar into the Country.
These developments were all over in the mainstream and regional media after police raids, but was never produced in court to an extend that some of it was found stored at the Webuye Pan-Paper mills which the Rai Group has so far converted it to a warehouse.
Records have also emerged showing that in mid 2018 it was reported that the sugar import barons led by the Rai Group had imported over a billion kilograms of sugar which was enough to feed the Country for two years without growing a single cane.
The sugar in question is still being held in some secret warehouses congesting the local market and has so far been released to the market packaged in local brands especially.
Therefore banning of the importation of sugar may look good to the eyes of the farmer but in real sense it was a well calculated move to allow the billion kilograms sugar to be sold out from the market before more is allowed in again.
On the issue of banning of the importation of raw sugarcane, many may not support the idea but what is more interesting is why the same Rai Group through its subsidiary Olepito sugar in Busia County should be the lead complainant to this matter and not the farmer.
The fact is that the Rai Group should only be worried when its competitors are poaching what belongs to them so for the Group to get worried that Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) was getting its raw materials from the neighbouring Uganda reeks of blatant dishonesty.
The truth of the matter is that he does not want BSI and any other competitor to survive now that he is favored by the newly gazzeted recommendations by the sugar Taskforce that saw the initial recommendations of regional zoning removed to allow free market.
With the prevailing free market scenario the Rai Group which has been allowed by the Government to operate with total impunity for many years now will make sure that with the muscles gotten through cheap sugar imports will get all the raw materials to its side and with the ban on the raw sugarcane importation that is a clear spelling of doom to the local sugar industry.
The government’s decision on the leasing of the sugar factories where it has the majority shareholding is good idea on the face value of it but the truth of the matter is that the whole process is set to benefit the Rai Group.
Those targeted by the Group include Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County and SONY sugar Company in Migori through his two companies Kabras Sugar and Sukari Sugar respectively.
The reality of the matter is the fact that in that process it will be bringing the total sugar factories deep into its pockets to six namely; West Kenya Sugar in Kakamega County, Olepito Sugar in Busia County, Sukari Sugar in Homabay, Kinyara Sugar in Uganda and of course Nzoia and SONY – therefore the most critical question is who will be controlling the country’s sugar industry and with what consequences?
Kenyans should not be quick to forget what happened to Pan-Paper mills in Webuye after the same government helped the Rai Group to buy it at a throw away price of Ksh 900 million when its worth is over Ksh 2billion worth of assets.
The memories of how President Uhuru Kenyatta officiated the opening of Pan-Paper under Rai are still fresh. The dead hopes of the people of Bungoma were given when they eventually saw smoke bellow from the factory. But little did Kenyans know that it was all Public Relations presided over by the head of state since the multi-billion shillings facility remains dead as a do do consumed by daily decay and rot.
The estimated more than twenty-two million smokers of the multi-billion shillings tobacco products may be purchasing the cheapest Rooster at Kshs. 5 to smoke their way to death with the eruption of the deadly Covid 19 disease.
The worst aspect of the whole problem is the fact that as one of the most highly taxed products in the country, hundreds of thousands of smokers right from Nairobi all the way to all corners of the country are in the habit of sharing a Khs. 5 cigarette stick.
That single stick can be shared with as many as five people and if just one of them is infected with the coronavirus it means high possibilities of spreading the virus to each and everyone who has savoured it at a cost of Kshs. 5 when the cheapest testing of that disease in the country is reported to be Kshs. 8, 000.
Leave alone the expenditures any of them testing positive will have to folk out during the 14 days quarantine and treatment to cure the Covid 19 disease that is wreaking havoc on economies and human life not only in Kenya but across the world at colossal expense.
Apart from the cheapest Kshs. Rooster brand and Supermatch, others like Safari (Pall Mall), is the second cheapest costing Kshs. 10 per stick or Kshs. 200 per packet, the rest like Sportsman, Rothmans, Dunhill, Embassy, Sweet Menthol, and Benson and Hedges goes for Kshs. 300 or more per packet.
All these brands in neighbouring countries cost half the above mentioned retail prices because of low or no taxation levels but cigarette smoking habits the same while in Kenya they are not spared tax increases every financial year including popular alcoholic beverages sometimes twice to raise government revenue.
However, with the explosion of Covid 19 in the country and government control measures declared and effected from March this year, among the prohibitions declared there is none concerning smoking or the widespread multi-individual sharing of a cigarette sticks across the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned that smokers are at the biggest risk of being infected and killed from the disease because it not only largely causes lung cancer, but also lung respiratory problems which makes them easy fodder for Covid 19 infections and higher rates of death.
Many of the stick sharing smokers interviewed said that the cigarettes were too expensive and the money has become extremely scarce to access especially since the eruption of the Covid 19 and stringent lockdowns being executed to stop its spread – it means more and more people sharing a single cigarette stick with deadly costly implications and consequences.
Mr. Gregory Nyaberi a Nairobi based businessman who has been smoking for the last 25 years said: “Times are extremely difficult to access enough money to meet my own domestic needs to survive, but worse to fulfill my nasty smoking habit, in these hard times we share cigarettes to quench our thirsts and being addictive it is an extremely difficult habit to stop though nasty.”
Mr. Nyaberi said that himself and his colleagues who share cigarette sticks obey the Covid 19 spread orders like wearing masks, social distancing, not shaking hands, groupings, meetings and even curfew government orders but not on smoking or sharing cigarettes risks that may cost direct infection from coronavirus infected fingers and cigarette butts direct to the smokers’ lips and lungs on inhalation – the virus will be transmitted.
He argued that apart from closing bars and restaurants to sell alcohol and food to consumers, nothing has been said about sharing a smoke with colleagues so long as they are wearing masks and social distancing.
These sentiments were expressed by smokers not only in Nairobi County, but also including those in the former Coast, Eastern, North Eastern, Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.
It is not just a Kenyan problem as the threats do not stop there since the British American Tobacco (BAT) a wide range tobacco products producing global conglomerate said: “Our product portfolio comprises a range of high quality and innovative products, including cigarettes (combustible products) and cut – rug tobacco (unprocessed tobacco) which serve markets in East and Central Africa (ECA).”
Its website report goes on to state that: “Our cigarette brand portfolio includes our local heritage brand Sportsman, which has been in the market for over 85 years and is sold in various Eastern Africa markets including Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia.”
It says that this is alongside other iconic brands such as Embassy, SM, Rooster and Safari. Our portfolio also includes a strong repertoire of global brands including Dunhill, Benson & Hedges and Rothmans, which are sold in over 200 markets worldwide including East and Central Africa and that is how big the problem can be in this region alone from the rich to the poor.
The BAT Kenya Limited alone last financial report posted a drop in net profits from Kshs. 4.1 billion in 2018 to Kshs. 3.9 billion at the close of financial year that ended 31st December, 2019.
The cigarette manufacturing conglomerate blamed the newly introduced excise tax on tobacco for the drop in sales and profitability. It said gross profit reduced despite the significant revenue growth and reduced financing costs.
As activity at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) as at the end of that year, the BAT shares were trading at Kshs. 485.00 each, a 3%drop from the price at the start of the year.
However since the eruption of the Covid 19 in China last year the WHO has reported: “Smokers are likely to contract the virus as the act of smoking means that fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes are in contact with lips.
Since it increases the possibility of transmitting the virus from the hand to mouth besides those smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”
The UN agency states that apart from cigarettes, smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of Covid-19 in communal and social settings.
Given the adverse effect on respiratory health, the current Covid-19 pandemic is seen as an opportunity for both smokers and vapers to quit.
The Nacada has already reported that about 2.2 million Kenyans still use tobacco products including sharing them. Globally, 1.12 billion people are smokers. It says that 8.6 per cent of Kenya’s 47.5 million people uses tobacco products and are largely male.
About 17 percent of males are current users of tobacco products compared with 2.1 per cent of females. It is unclear whether this explains why the rate of infection of Covid-19 in the country is higher among men than women.
The Water Resources Authority (WRA), formerly known as Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) and National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) have triggered a storm that brings into question the legality of many of their ongoing demolitions of multi-billion shillings buildings particularly in Nairobi.
It also brings into question whether some top operatives of the two authorities are using their positions to abuse the powers and privileges those offices have granted them in executing their duties with rampant impunity.
The Multi-billion shillings worth Rai Group wants to acquire the country’s largest ailing miller Mumias Sugar Company to control the country’s sugar industry.
The Western Parliamentary Group Caucus Chairman, John Bunyasi says there are covert and overt deliberate and systematic machinations and manipulations clearly indicating that the Rai Group was keen to acquire Mumias Sugar once it falls under the hammer of auctioneers.
The Huawei mobile handset service providers are creaming hundreds of thousands of shillings from ignorant un-suspecting customers who go to their service centres to fix their phones.
It has emerged that the technicians at the centres literally fail to identify the real problems of the customers’ handsets may be having but give the customers wrong information and advice on how to fix the problems.
The immediate former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is to face legal action from the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) over Kshs. 3.1 billion that was looted from the giant Mumias Sugar Company during his tenure as Chief Executive officer of the company.
According to a detailed press release from the Authority the other former senior manager who is targeted is Paul Kimutai Murgor and former member of the board of directors peter Hongo who were found directly implicated in the loss of the billions after a forensic audit commissioned by the CMA.
The statement signed by MPRSK head of Communications Anthony Mwangi reads in part: “The Capital Markets Authority conducted a forensic investigation through J Miles & Company. The forensic auditors reviewed the financial and governance operations of the company for ten years, between 2006 to 2016.”
The untouchable Moghuls and power brokers of the country’s beleaguered sugar industry the Rai Group owners of West Kenya Sugar Company Ltd have been put on the firing line by the latest entrant into the industry.
The suspension of the Mumias Sugar Company Chief Executive Nation Aseka has triggered the eruption of more critical questions, rage, fury, anger, uproar and outrage than answers over the surprise move by the Board of Directors of the cash strapped giant.
It also appears to have thrown a deadly spanner into the powerful under currents of the perennially endless and forever broiling sugar industry politics and brought them to the fore at long last.
The most critical question of all the questions being posed by stakeholders is what tangible and concrete evidence or reasons did the company’s board have to take that “drastic” action against the only person qualified to salvage that company from its financial mess?
A deadly phenomenon of road accidents involving trucks and tractors transporting sugarcane for West Kenya Sugar factories has erupted in Western Kenya sending chilling shock wave alarms across the region.
Chilling shockwave alarms because the perpetrators of the accidents appear to doing it with reckless impunity and getting away with it because of the powerful financial and political influence of the owners of the factories – the Rai Group.
Endless vicious legal battles have delayed the commissioning of the more than Kshs. 4.6 billion Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) sugar factory for more than a year.
The commissioning of the factory was supposed to be done last year in May by President Uhuru Kenyatta, but as we go to press that remains a pipedream as the sugar industry regulator has thrown the spanner in the works.