The Un-touchable Rai Group A Deadly Threat To The Sugar Industry

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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.

Sugar in warehouse

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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