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Sugar crackdown hits Kwale miller

Kwale International Sugar Company
Kwale International Sugar Company (KISCOL) workers counting the number of bags of sugar ready to be distributed to the market on June 22, 2018 at the factory. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Go-downs belonging to a Kwale-based sugar firm backed by Mauritian giant, Omnicane, were shut by the government as a crackdown on contraband intensifies.

The facilities owned by Kwale International Sugar Company Ltd (KISCOL) were closed amid an ongoing parliamentary probe into how contaminated sugar could have gotten into the Kenyan market.

Agencies led by the parliamentary committee on Trade and Agriculture recently took samples from the company for testing in government laboratories to see if they contained mercury and copper.

According to a source at the firm, the go-downs were to be reopened on Wednesday this week but remain closed up to now.

A manager at KISCOL, Mathias Mutua, confirmed the closure but declined to comment further on the matter.

"Our go-downs were shut by the government and there is no production of sugar currently. I'm in Nairobi at the moment but will brief you when I come back to Kwale," he said yesterday.

He, however, did not clarify the state of pending clearance of the firm's sugar samples taken for testing.

In a recent interview with journalists last month, Mr Mutua had assured the public that sugar produced by the miller was safe for consumption.

He supported ongoing investigations to expose cartels involved in the illegal importation and dumping of contraband, saying it was affecting the local industry.

Kwale International Sugar Company

An official at the Kwale International Sugar Company plant. File Photo | NMG

KISCOL, which started operations in 2014, was built on the grounds of the collapsed Ramisi Sugar factory at a cost of Sh17.8 billion.

It has the capacity to crush over 3,000 tonnes of cane per day.

Despite severe drought and a prolonged electioneering period that affected businesses last year, the Kwale-based firm netted a profit of Sh75 million for the financial year ended December 2017.

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