EXCLUSIVE: West Kenya Importing Sub-standard Sugar

West Kenya Sugar Company in collaboration with powerful politicians in government are flooding the country with imported duty free sub-standard sugar in total disregard of standing high court orders banning the same.

The company which is also at the centre of the sugarcane poaching crisis that is plaguing Western Kenya is flooding the local market with the sub-standard commodity which is re-packaged after leaving the Kibarani warehouses in Mombasa said to be belonging to Multiple Hauliers.

Angaza News has established that the sub-standard commodity whose quality has not been tested by the Kenya National Bureau of Standards (KNBS) is re-packaged into containers passing it off as being a product of West Kenya’s Kabras factory branded as “Kabras Sugar”.

[wp_ad_camp_2] It has also emerged that the directors of the company are colluding with powerful politicians in government who also have huge financial stakes in the business making a killing in a country starved off locally produced sugar due to failure to meet their production capacities.

The huge revenue generated or accruing to the powerful political elite was first channeled into massive spending to finance their campaigns in the run up to the August 8th, 2017 general elections and the repeat presidential elections scheduled for tomorrow October 26th, 2017.

At the same time proceeds of the huge profits of the illicit trade are being used by top operatives of West Kenya Sugar Company to compromise some Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials to look aside as the commodity is imported and camouflaged as sand.

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Efforts to get comment from the West Kenya boss Jaswint Rai and the owners of the giant Multiple Hauliers whose core business is long distance cargo hauling from Mombasa to various parts of the country and across its borders were fruitless.

West Kenya is also at the centre of crippling legal battles that have nearly grounded the completion of the Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) factory at Busibwabo area, Matayos sub-county in Busia County.

The relentless legal battles totaling to more than twelve in number in less than two years were deliberately engineered by West Kenya in collaboration with other third parties after the company was denied license to build a sugar factory at Olepito area on the Busia – Mumias highway in Busia County by the former Kenya Sugar Board (KSB).

The Board’s then Chief Executive Rosemary Mkok said the company was denied license because it already had license not only to operate its factory at Kabras area of Malava sub-county in Kakamega County, but also another to construct another factory at Bilibili area in Kimilili sub-county of Bungoma county but had to date failed to construct the facility.

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Despite the Authority’s refusal to grant West Kenya license and warning it against going ahead to construct the facility, the company went ahead to construct it. It was completed this year but is yet to become operational but the site where it is constructed is being used as a collection centre for sugarcane poached from the county.

What is clear is the fact that the company’s directors are taking advantage of their close business ties with powerful politicians in government not only to be involved in illicit import trade, but also viciously undermine its competitors.

The local sugar producers were granted a lifeline after the high court sitting in Nairobi issued temporary orders this month stopping the importation of duty free sugar since it would strangle to death the ailing local sugar producers.

[wp_ad_camp_2] This followed an application by activist Okiya Omtatah challenging the treasury’s decision to give permission to importers to import the duty free commodity into the country on October 4th – a move that caused a blanket outcry from the local millers whose very survival was at stake competing sugar that was selling at very low retail prices.

Omtatah argued that the waiver had been arbitrarily imposed without the participation of all stakeholders in the country’s sugar industry including members of the public as required by law and the constitution.

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According to statistics from the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority the wholesale price for imported sugar is averaging at Kshs. 3,600 per 50 kilogram bag while the factory price for local manufacturers is between Kshs. 4,000 and Kshs. 4,400.

AFFA also reports that between January and July an estimated 245,168 tons of sugar was imported into the country, indicating the dependence of local consumption on the imported sweetener. Kenya consumes 870,000 tonnes of sugar against a production of 600,000 tonnes annually with an annual deficit of more than 270, 000 tonnes.

[wp_ad_camp_2] James Omondi a sugarcane farmer in Busia says, “This sub-standard imported sugar must be subjected to intense scrutiny by all the relevant government agencies and departments and punitive action taken against the importers.”

Omondi says that these imports are posing a great health hazards to millions of un-suspecting consumers since its quality has never been verified by the KNBS as required by law, therefore consumers must immediately stop purchasing any sugar labeled West Kenya or Kabras Sugar until further notice.

He says that apart from being a deadly threat to the very survival of the local millers, the law must be respected and action must be taken against those who disregard court orders because it is clearly contempt of court.





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