Counties

Workers, counties to oversee leasing of State sugar millers

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Miwani Sugar Company. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The government has incorporated workers and 14 counties in a committee tasked with overseeing leasing of State-owned sugar factories in what could end a legal row that has stalled the process.
  • Chemelil Sugar Company, South Nyanza Sugar Company, Nzoia Sugar Company, Miwani and Muhoroni, both which are already under receivership are the five factories slated for leasing.
  • The appointment of Mr Wangara into the interim management committee on leasing of sugar firms could see workers withdraw a case that suspended the exercise.

The government has incorporated workers and 14 counties in a committee tasked with overseeing leasing of State-owned sugar factories in what could end a legal row that has stalled the process.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has appointed Francis Wangara, general-secretary of the Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers and Abala Wanga, the Lake Region Economic Bloc acting chief executive officer as members of the interim management committee on the leasing of the five State-owned sugar mills.

Ben Okumu, the economic adviser in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning will also join the committee formed in July to guide the process of leasing five State-owned sugar mills as it seeks to re-energise the sector, which is currently on its knees.

“It is notified for the general information of the public that, pursuant to Gazette Notice No. 5473 of 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives appoints Ben Okumu (Dr), Abala Wanga and Francis Wangara, to be members of the Interim Management Committee on the Leasing of the Five State Owned Sugar Mills, with effect from the 1st September, 2020,” Mr Munya said in a notice published on Friday in the Kenya Gazette.

Chemelil Sugar Company, South Nyanza Sugar Company, Nzoia Sugar Company, Miwani and Muhoroni, both which are already under receivership are the five factories slated for leasing.

The appointment of Mr Wangara into the interim management committee on leasing of sugar firms could see workers withdraw a case that suspended the exercise.

The Labour Relations Court in Kisumu suspended the leasing of state-owned sugar factories until workers’ issues, including Sh4 billion salary arrears, are addressed.

Mr Wangara secured orders on August 12 stopping the leasing exercise pending hearing and determination of the workers application.

The union demanded that workers’ issues, including the payment of more than Sh4 billion salary arrears, addressed before leasing can continue.

The three new appointees will join the team chaired by Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Anne Nyaga. Other members of the committee include the management of the five mills, Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) director-general Anthony Muriithi and head of sugar directorate Ms Rosemary Owino, who will be the secretary of the committee.

The joint receivers of Muhoroni and Miwani Sugar companies, Mr Francis Ooko and Harun Kirui and Chemelil managing director Gabriel Nyangweso, Stephen Ligawa of Sony Sugar and the Nzoia counterpart Mr Michael Wanjala are also members of the interim committee.

The specific role of the interim committee is to receive, review and make recommendations on issues related to the specific sugar mills.

The issues will include job contracts, payment of wages, management of suppliers, forward sales and other credit arrangements, staff and grower arrears as well as security arrangements.

The government has since received 29 bids from investors with experience in the global sugar industry to run the ailing State mills.