20 February 2013

Rwanda: Rwamagana Beer Factory Suppliers Protest Delayed Pay

Employees and suppliers of SOFOKI, a banana beer factory located in Rwamagana district on Monday stormed the company's offices in protest over delayed payment. At least seven suppliers and 15 workers besieged the factory's headquarters in Muyumbu sector demanding to be paid immediately.

SOFOKI buys banana juice from people in the neighbouring villages which is processed and bottled as beer. Suppliers told The New Times they supplied bottle caps, empty bottles, uniforms for workers and office materials among others but the have not received their payment for months.

"To be able to purchase the supplies I acquired a loan and soon my property will be attached by the bank because of defaulting and this is because the factory is not paying me," said Edina Mukankuranga, who supplied bottle-tops to the factory. She said that the factory now owes her Rwf6.5 million.

When contacted, Christophe Gakuba, a senior official with SOFOKI, acknowledged the outstanding debts, and said the reason they accumulated the debts was a substantial loss of Rwf30m that they incurred.

"I totally understand their frustration and they will be paid in due course, its just that we do not have money at the moment," said Gakuba, without elaborating what could have caused the loss.

Gakuba said the total debt is about Rwf18,000,000 for suppliers and Rwf500,000 for workers. The mayor of Rwamagana district, Nehemie Uwimana, said he was aware of the problem and threatened that the district would take firmer measures including closing it down if the problem persists.

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