Counties

Mumias cane farmers protest over delayed payments

FARMERS HAVE BEEN URGED TO GROW MORE CANE. FILE PHOTO | NMG
FARMERS HAVE BEEN URGED TO GROW MORE CANE. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Farmers who delivered their cane to Mumias Sugar Company #ticker:MSC have marched to the factory demanding to be paid out of the government Sh500 million bailout funds released in July.

The growers claimed they have been visiting the company to be paid their dues to no avail.

“I am tired of walking for over 5km on a weekly basis to come to Mumias only to get the same catchphrase of check on your account from next week," lamented Wilfred Jiriswa, a farmer from Malaha.

The farmers, who were later  addressed by the company Managing Director Mr Nashon Aseka, claimed the money that was allocated to pay part of the outstanding arrears had been diverted into paying factory employees and cane transporters.

But Mr Aseka said the money was put on a special account meant for bailout of the company on July 28 this year and had not been withdrawn until last week.

He said the procedure to have him included as the company account signatory took time and delayed the process of paying farmers.

“This is a special account that required approval of KPMG who are the company auditors for the change of signatory after the former manager Mr Eroll Johnson left the company unceremoniously,” said Mr Aseka.

“I started accessing the account last week and we generated a list of farmers with debts of less than Sh10,000 and started paying them therein," said Mr Aseka.

He added that the company owes 10,000 farmers close to Sh1 billion and the Sh500 million given by the government may not be enough settle all the outstanding debt.

He said it was a priority of the management team to pay farmers, factory employees and revive the factory for the company to have a smooth running.

The CEO said 15 per cent of the bailout money will be used to cut down payment of workers, cane harvesters and transporters.