Manufacturing

Mumias roars to life as cane supply issue begs answers

mumias

Entrance gate at Mumias sugar company. FILE PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NMG

The management of Sarrai Group of Uganda has started a test run of the mills at the debt-ridden Mumias Sugar factory after the rehabilitation and maintenance of the run-down equipment.

The miller has in the last three days started crushing 1,000 tonnes of sugarcane per day as technical teams monitor operations.

The High Court had earlier canceled the 20-year-lease awarded to Sarrai Group but the Uganda-based company went back to court and obtained temporary orders suspending Justice Alfred Mabeya’s order.

KCB Group also obtained a temporary order at the Court of Appeal suspending the judge's decision.

A fleet of vehicles has been brought in by the investor to deliver sugarcane to the plant, but there is no clear plan on how the miller will sustain operations without raw material after resuming operations at full throttle.

Mr Steven Kihumba, a representative of the Sarrai Group at Mumias told Nation. Africa that: “I can confirm that our mills have roared back to life and we are currently doing a test run of the milling operation at the factory."

He said the plan was to continue with the test run and slowly improve the crushing capacity depending on the availability of raw material.

“We have engaged extension staff and send them to recruit farmers and identify available mature sugarcane for harvesting and crushing. During our first test run, we managed crush between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of cane and everything has been going smoothly.”

Kakamega governor Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya had earlier indicated that the miller will start crushing sugarcane in the next two weeks. He said he had intervened by meeting management officials of Kenya Power to restore electricity to the factory.

Power supply to the factory had been disconnected over nonpayment of Sh1.2 billion bill.

“I had negotiations with the management of Kenya Power and we have agreed we can have the matter addressed after the miller has been allowed to operate.

Contractors who carried out maintenance of the weighbridges were demanding Sh37 million but governor Oparanya said he had negotiated with the group to allow the miller use the facilities as arrangements were being made to pay them.

Activities at the factory are taking place even as the once-giant miller pursues an appeal challenging the decision by the High court to kick out PVR Rao as Mumias receiver manager.

The Sarrai Group suffered a setback after the High Court cancelled a lease issued to the firm in December last year and ordered the company to vacate the factory.

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