Court reverses order allowing Sarrai to resume Mumias operations


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

The High Court in Kakamega has reversed an order allowing Sarrai Group to resume operations at Mumias Sugar Company after a judge who was hearing the case was informed of the possibility of his decision conflicting with directives issued by two others courts in Nairobi.

Justice William Musyoka reversed the order he issued last week, saying he had been informed of the two orders issued by two judges in Nairobi, stopping the Uganda-based company from kick-starting the revival process of Mumias Sugar.

The Judge had allowed Sarrai Group to continue with operations, repairs and maintenance of equipment, farming and other activities after winning a 20-year bid to lease Mumias Sugar.

The lease was signed on December 22 but it has been challenged by several parties including Tumaz and Tumaz and West Kenya, which placed the highest bid of Sh36 billion. 

"To avoid the conflict, the order made first in time takes precedence over the latter orders," the Judge said meaning that the operations remains suspended, pending the determination of the cases. 

The Judge also allowed five farmers, who had obtained the order stopping the operations, to join the case filed in Kakamega. 

The five led by Lambert Lwanga argued that they too have challenged the lease and should be heard. He directed their lawyer Kibe Mungai to serve court documents to other parties ahead of the hearing on March 15. 

Justice Musyoka agreed to hear the case filed by Kakamega county government, which argued that agriculture is a devolved function and it was in it's interest for the miller to be revived.

Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprises, which placed a bid of Sh27.6 billion wanted the case struck out arguing the similar cases were pending before the High Court in Nairobi.

The company has accused administrator PVR Rao of failing to subject the process in a transparent manner and that the process was marred with irregularities.

Senior Counsel James Orengo for the county government argued that the suspension of the lease process will lead to massive loss of revenue for the county and financial loss to Sarrai Group.

He said the county government would like the activities of the company, through Sarrai Group, protected from interference.

Mr Orengo said any interference amounted to economic sabotage, meant to frustrate the source of revenue for millions of Kakamega residents. 

Another case is being heard by Justice Alfred Mabeya, while Justice Anthony Ndung'u will rule on another application on March 3.