Kenya: Mumias Sugar Offers Reward for Information on Arson Attacks

13 August 2020

The management of Mumias Sugar Company is now facing a fresh headache after suspected arsonists set a section of the sugarcane farm in the nucleus estates on fire.

The burning of the cane is likely to jolt plans for the revival of the miller by the receiver manager Mr Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao.

Management officials say they were yet to establish who was behind the fire incidents detected in the expansive nucleus farm in the last two days and are compiling a report on the destruction of the cane.

Acting Human Resources manager John Shiundu said the receiver manager has offered Sh50,000 to anyone who will give information on the suspected arsonists.

The receiver manager has been trading the over mature cane for molasses from Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County.

The burnt cane was offered to Nzoia Sugar for harvesting in exchange for a supply of molasses which Mumias Sugar will use for ethanol production.

"We are still compiling details on the amount of cane destroyed but we have deployed guards to carry out surveillance at the nucleus estate," said a management official.

Security patrols

Mumias West sub-county police commander Mr Paul Kipkorir said the management officials at the factory should involve police when planning security patrols at the nucleus estate to deal with the reported incidents of arson.

"We are waiting for report from the sugar miller on what happened so that we can start instating the incident. The management officials should work closely with police to deal with reported arson targeting the sugarcane farms," said Mr Kipkorir.

The miller was placed under administration of the receiver manager in September last year.

Mr Rao had indicated the miller will restart sugar milling operations by next month but the plan has been scuttled by the delayed procurement of vital equipment needed for cane crushing.

The rotors were to be procured from a South African firm but Mr Rao said the supplier had been forced to close down operations due to Covid-19 disruptions.

Last week, Mr Rao complained that influential individuals were out to scuttle efforts for the revival of the miller.

Derail plans

"There is a scheme by powerful individuals to kill the efforts we are making to revive the sugar factory. At the moment, they spreading misinformation about us claiming there is nothing we are doing while targeting to derail our revival plans," said Mr Rao.

But he declined to name the individuals saying they are busy frustrating his efforts and derailing plans he had put in place restart sugar milling.

"But I'm confident that the support I'm being accorded by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya will get the miller back on track. There are those who are doing everything possible to derail plans but there is hope we shall get there," said Mr Rao.

The receiver manager had earlier indicated he had ordered the equipment from a supplier in South Africa and it would take a month to ship it to the country.

The supplier was expected to ship the equipment and deliver it to the miller this month.

This would have then enabled the miller to start preparations to install the spare parts needed in the sugar processing plant and carry out a trial run of the mills before kick starting sugar milling early next month.

The miller is currently involved in ethanol production and has produced 470,000 litres in the last one week.

An additional 1,000 tonnes of molasses has been brought in from Nzoia Sugar Company and Busia Sugar Company for ethanol production.

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