The Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) has declared a cold but vicious war against journalists operating in Busia County and in the Western Kenya region.
The affected Journalists said this follows the exposes the media fraternity in the region have been revealing concerning the company’s dealings with sugarcane brokers instead of officially contracted farmers to supply the raw material for processing at its facility at Busibwabo market, Matayos sub-county in Busia County.
The consequences have been that both the private and contracted farmers have been forced to sell the crop to BSI brokers at throw away prices, who then sell it to BSI at higher prices at virtually no cost otherwise hundreds of thousands of tonnes has ended up either rotting or getting over-age on the farms.
Matters came to a head on Thursday when a large press corps detailed to cover the Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development CAS David Osiany from the ministry of industrialization headquarters who was on an extensive tour of industries in the region landed at the BSI facility at Busibwabo market.
The Industrialization ministry boss who was accompanied by senior government officials including the county deputy governor Moses Mulomi among other County security bosses were expressly allowed through the main gate for the official tour of the facility.
However, the vehicles carrying the media brigades arrived at the gates they were stopped and totally denied entry to cover the proceedings though they had been covering the official the whole on a tour of other projects without a hitch.
Their representative who requested not to be named said: “Indeed we were shocked at this kind of rude development being locked out when we had been covering the ministry’s top official who had also been to neighbouring counties as well as sub-counties in Busia.”
He said they called the security manager to the gate who made inquiries to the top management and was bluntly told to tell that journalists were not wanted and they had also not been invited to cover the occasion.
The Journalist said rift between BSI can only be linked to the locally based media brigade’s wide coverage of the crisis facing sugarcane farmers with hundreds of thousands of their BSI contracted cane either rotting or over-aging and getting over-age and useless on their farms.
However it has since emerged that indeed the BSI management had earlier sent them an invite to cover the function only to rudely turn them away at the gates without any prior warning or cancellation of the invite by the management.
The invite reads: “Kindly provide coverage….CAS industrialization Hon. David Osiany will be visiting Busia, Thursday at 8:30am. He will pay courtesy call at CCs office thereafter visit OSBP Busia and later visit Busia Sugar factory.”
The Journalists in Busia County have condemned the manner in which Busia Sugar Industry handled them when they had gone to cover the factory tour by the CAS for Industrialization.
Patrick Ouma of Emuria Radio and Leonard Achari of West FM who were among the Busia based Journalists who went to cover the event expressed their anger accusing the management of Busia Sugar for being hostile to the media.
“We wondered why BSI had changed all of a sudden when knowing very well that they had earlier sent to us an invite to cover the function denying their own invite when it was already with us. What kind of working relationship is this?” Ouma posed.
Indeed it is on record that the same media brigade played a critical in turning BSI’s fortunes when it was embroiled in bitter vicious legal battles with its competitors who wanted to stop its factory’s construction in its infancy – they broke the battles and covered them to the end.