Kenya: Mumias Buys Vital Spares for Mill

Mumias Sugar Company has finally procured vital equipment needed to operationalise sugar milling processes at the factory.

The receiver manager, Mr Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao, said on Thursday the rotors will be shipped to the country from a supplier in South Africa before end of this month.

Plans for the procurement of the equipment were delayed due to the restrictions put in place following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Rao, however, did not reveal the cost of rotors.

The miller has already carried an inspection of the sugar milling equipment at the factory and engineers who were involved in the work said the mills were in good working condition.

Mr Rao said the miller is expected to start sugar milling operations in September after the rotors had been installed and test run of the mills is performed.

"We had expected to move fast with the preparations for sugar milling but there have been several challenges which have slowed down the process.

"We are expecting the equipment needed to operationalise the sugar mills to be shipped to the country, latest by end of the month so that we can the focus on installing the rotors and do a test run of the mills," said Mr Rao.

The miller is currently involved in ethanol production but the operations are limping due a shortage of the molasses, a byproduct of sugar milling process.

Mr Rao said the shortage of molasses which was a raw material for ethanol production had crippled operations for the past one months.

"The shortage of molasses has severely crippled our operations and we are now only able to carry out production for one week in a month," said Mr Rao.

The miller is currently sourcing molasses from Busia Sugar Factory, Butali Sugar Mills, Nzoia Sugar Company and Muhoroni Sugar Company in Kisumu County.

A management official at the Mumias Sugar Company said the miller was able to get a supply of 300 tonnes of molasses from the sugar millers.

"The heavy rains in the region have affected sugar milling operations and this has led to the shortage of molasses. But we are doing our best to buy the amount molasses that is available to keep our operations going," said Mr John Shiundu, the acting Human Resource manager.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said on Saturday last week that the government was looking into a proposal by leaders from the region to waive debts owed by financially struggling millers.

They said once the debts were waived, the next move would be to push for privatization of the state owned sugar factories as part of a strategy to turn around their fortunes.

"We want the sugar factories to be run in a similar fashion as the private sugar factories in our region which are doing well despite the challenges facing the sugar industry. We want serious management of the sugar factories to deal with the issues of mismanagement and corruption which had led to the collapse of the millers," said Mr Oparanya.

Mr Wamalwa said President Kenyatta has pledged to ensure the sugar factories along with other collapsed projects in western region were revived in the next two years.

Leaders from western region have identified Mumias Sugar Company and Nzoia Sugar Company as two of the factories that need to be revived to the dwindling economic fortunes of the region.

There is a plan by the national government to inject funds for completion of tarmacking of key roads to improve the infrastructure and open the region to investments.

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