A covert deadly multi-billion shillings war targeting the leasing of the five government owned factories has erupted between Jubilee Party’s Tangatanga and the Kieleweke groups.
The Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association Secretary General Richard Ochieng Ogendo hinted through a Facebook post that the proposed leasing of the sugar factories in the former western and Nyanza provinces has already been classified into two groups.
“I have been in this industry and I know all the inner workings the current fight is also government aligned you can see all tangatanga outfits in one corner by the way inquire who mombasa sweets is and its role on the sugar column, butali, BSI and kibos are all in one column the other is Rai alone”, read the post.
According to Ogendo, the Tangatanga group led by Deputy President William Ruto which is targeting to use Butali in Kakamega County and Kibos Sugar in Kisumu County to lease Nzoia Sugar and Muhoroni Sugar respectively is bound to lose in this process. Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) though mentioned by Ogendo as being in Tangatanga group did not apply.
Others on Deputy President’s radar are Chemilil and Miwani which are reputed to have huge plantation lands for sugarcane growing unlike other millers.
It would therefore mean that the rest are being targeted by the Kieleweke group fronted by the billionaire family owned Rai Group that is among the corporate entities that have thrown in bids to be considered by the government to lease the sugar companies largely owned by the state on at least 25 year leaseholds.
However, it is not clear whether the faces behind the Kieleweke Group is being led by President Uhuru Kenyatta who reportedly has close business ties with the Rai Group that is dominating the other column fighting for the multi-billion shillings business despite the court injunction.
The matter has since gone to the high court which recently issued orders halting the process until when the matter is heard and determined.
Apart from the Rai Group which already owns West Kenya Sugar/Kabras Millers and Olepito Sugar Company in Kakamega and Busia counties respectively, Sukari Sugar in Migori and Kinyara in Uganda, the others are Mombasa Sweets Ltd whose ownership is un-known.
There is also China CMC Engineering Company Ltd, Mehta Group Ltd, Butali Sugar Company in Kakamega County, Mini Bakeries, Shenzhen Start Instruments, and Kuguru Food Industries.
The five state owned millers targeted for leasing are Sony Sugar, Chemilil, Nzoia, Muhoroni and Miwani Sugar companies two of which are up for grabs by the Kieleweke Group through the Rai Group which is also under scrutiny for illegal sugar imports some of which were impounded at its Pan-Paper Mills factory in Webuye town of Bungoma county.
It is feared that with recent banning of brown sugar imports by the government, this is going to give room to the cheap sugar importing barons in the country to offload it on the local market to pocket billions of illicit shillings considering the fact that local production is at its lowest ebb at less than 600, 000 tonnes when the market consumption has ballooned to more than 1.2 million tonnes annually.
The illicit imports according to the government were more than 2 billion kilogrammes, enough to feed the country for two years the bulk of it imported by the Rai Group.
The most interesting aspect of the whole business is the fact that there is absolutely no law that prohibits anyone be it Sugar Barons the likes of Jaswant Rai from leasing the sugar factories though fairness must be observed at all costs.
It is indeed on record that the Rai Group already has four sugar factories namely; Kinyara Sugar (Uganda), West Kenya Sugar (Kakamega), Sukari Sugar (Homabay) and Olepito sugar (Busia).
Therefore if he is allowed to lease Nzoia Sugar (Bungoma) and SONY Sugar (Migori) he will have six in his pocket and whay may follow if Government that tends to be on his side helps him to lease them then the Sugar Industry in Kenya shall be headed to a monopoly.