No sugar milling licence should be issued to Butali Sugar Mills until a petition filed by its rival, West Kenya Sugar Company, is heard and determined, the High Court has ruled. West Kenya Sugar went to the court contesting the legal basis upon which Butali Sugar Mills operates, arguing that it violated its fundamental rights and freedoms by constructing and operating a sugar mill within its (West Kenya Sugar Company’s) sugar zone.

It wants Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Felix Koskei, compelled to constitute and operationalise the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority to handle the matter. It told the court that the law was clear that only the board of the yet to be constituted body can consider the pending application of an operating licence by Butali Sugar Mills. The court ordered the Cabinet Secretary to make sure that the board is constituted as provided for by the law.

It further prohibited four respondents mentioned in the order from considering and determining the application by Butali Sugar until the board is in place. The four respondents are the Agricultural Fisheries and Food Authority; the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; Alfred Busolo Tabu (Interim Director General, agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority) and Rosemary Mkok (Interim Head of the Sugar Directorate).

The parties were ordered to appear before the court on December 2 for directions. The court order comes in the wake of Deputy President William Ruto’s remarks that the government would issue Butali Sugar Mills with its operating license. West Kenya Sugar Company said it would follow the rule of law to the letter until the issue is fully resolved.

See editorial: Two millers are better than one


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