West Kenya Sugar Company is playing deadly high stakes mercenary games to destroy the sugar industry in western Kenya to engineer cheap takeovers of the remaining shells of the sugar companies.
The takeovers of the sugar company shells that are left over will eventually catapult West Kenya to monopolise the entire sugar industry in the country where it can smuggle into Kenya cheap sugar imports and re-package them as its own produced by the shells of the factories it has taken over.
They will also include cover up dummies it is creating at Olepito in Busia County, Sukari in Nyanza, Kinyara in Uganda and yet another secret one planned for construction in Webuye’s Panpaper Mills land which Taj Rai and company have bought to target Nzoia Sugar.
It must also be remembered that the same company tried to apply to construct factory in Bungoma but failed even to construct the factory after being granted license by the then Kenya Sugar Board.
With the monopoly it will be in a position to dictate to the farmers and sugar consumers what prices it wants as it reaps huge profits without investing a single cent in sugarcane development as required by law since it has no contracts with the farmers.
The machinations have been in place for more than five years with the deliberate, calculated and efficiently executed sugarcane poaching crisis from farmers contracted to well established milling companies like the giant Mumias Sugar Company in Kakamega County, Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County and Butali Sugar Company also in Kakamega County.
Whereas contrary to the Sugar Act governing the sugar sub-sector, West Kenya led by Taj Rai who operates a sugar factory at Kabras area in Kakamega County – has no single contracted farmer to its credit to supply its factory with the necessary raw material – sugarcane hence the endless sugarcane poaching crisis.
Having invested no single cent in sugarcane development with the farmers, buying their crop cheaply with immediate cash but slightly higher prices than the going market rates and the farmers avoiding loan deductions – West Kenya set the stage to strangle raw materials to sustain Mumias, Nzoia and Butali Sugar Companies.
To effectively destroy them with strangled or killed raw material supplies and cheap illegal sugar imports, West Kenya sugar factory is already in place in Kabras, Sukari in former Nyanza Nyanza province targeting millers there, another illegally constructed factory near competition at Olepito area in Busia County on the Busia – Mumias highway and Kinyara in Uganda.
This has been crowned with the recent cheap purchase of the multi-billion shillings Panpaper Milling factory in Webuye which was destroyed through manipulations by Mr. Rai’s Raiply Timber Company in Eldoret – the purchase is going to enable Rai to build another front of a sugar factory within the huge Panpaper compound to systematically poach sugarcane from farmers contracted to the neighbouring Nzoia sugar company.
After strangling the raw material supplies to Panpaper through its Raiply operations, the giant paper and newsprint producer in Webuye for the larger Eastern and Central Africa region had no option – but to completely grind to a standstill its operations. Indeed it has been so for the last twenty years as its market value was forced to greatly depreciate so that it can be sold at a throw away price – and Mr. Taj Rai was ready to gobble it up for secret purposes since the Raiply monopoly is vibrant.
It is through such manipulative intricacies that were used to bring down Panpaper when it was the only competitor to Raiply that are now being replicated to destroy the existing sugar milling companies with Mumias Sugar already on its knees and the others tottering so that they can be bought off at a pittance of a price that is completely out of league from their real values to effect the monopoly.
That is especially Mumias Sugar whose ultra-modern diffuser technology factory took the company more than Kshs. 5 billion in the late 1990s to install not to mention the profits and assets it acquired for the company. That is before being forced to its knees with its sugarcane supplies strangled as it is poached by West Kenya thus threatening to hammer the last nail in its death coffin because there are no raw materials to survive on.
Just like Panpaper Mills of Webuye was before collapse, Mumias Sugar is the largest consumer of sugarcane and producer of white/brown sugar due to its diffuser technology that consumes more than 130, 000 tonnes of raw sugarcane per day at its full production capacity compared to other millers both in the former Western and Nyanza provinces whose consumption is well below 100, 000 tonnes.
After downing the Paper Miller Mills, it is indeed from this background that Taj Rai realised the potential in making huge profits in the monopoly of the country’s sugar industry through manipulations, under hand deals, pocketing top government officials right from the retired Presidents’ Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki to the current President Uhuru Kenyatta administrations.
Indeed it was after the collapse of Panpaper that Taj Rai bought the founders of West Kenya Sugar factory from the Biku Patel family that was based in Kakamega to start executing his machinations against Mumias Sugar and the other competitors in the former Western province.
With vicious violence erupting against his operatives involved in sugarcane poaching for the Kabras based sugar factory and in collaboration with mafia like cartels of sugarcane brokers, they turned to the vulnerable sugarcane farmers based in Busia County contracted to Mumias only 40 kilometres away while Kabras is more than 130 kilometres away from Busia.
According to the Sugar Act and regulations sugarcane millers are supposed to have contracted farmers within a radius of 47 square kms of their factory within which they are also supposed to restrict their operations – in that no other miller is allowed to construct and operate another sugar factory within that radius – that is not the situation with the West Kenya Olepito factory in relation to that of Busia Sugar Industries at Busibwabo.
With Taj Rai monopolising the sugar industry in the country without a single contracted sugarcane farmer as required by law, it means he can use his non-producing companies to import cheap sugar, smuggle it into the country and repackage it for sale to consumers as locally produced products from the same companies.
Meanwhile farmers without any millers to contract them for sugarcane supplies and collaborative sugarcane development programmes as required by law because of the high production costs involved – will have no option but to abandon production of the same as they did with cotton production in the late 1970s to the 1980s to date.
It must not be forgotten that when mafia like cartels involved in importing cheap second hand clothes into the local market started manipulating cotton farmers like West Kenya is doing to sugarcane farmers, the multi-billion shillings textile industry in the country collapsed like a deck of cards when farmers abandoned production of the crop to ironically turn to sugarcane farming.
The giant manufacturing and exporting entities like Kisumu Cotton Mills (KICOMI), Rift Valley Textile Mills (RIVATEX), the prestigious Raymonds, Thika Textile Mills (TAITEX)…just to mentioned a few are some of those which collapsed and remain so to date even as the government tries to entice reluctant cotton farmers to re-start production of the crop.
Some of the most critical questions the government must be forced to answer are why Taj Rai and Company are illegally building a sugar factory at Olepito area near Tangakona on the Busia – Mumias highway? Even if they are deeply embedded with top government officials at the national level, are they including the government officials even the President above the law? Are an individual’s private profit interests above the law and the larger public interests of the nation?