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How I Plan To Revive Mumias Sugar, Ruto Reveals New Cabinet Strategy

President Ruto warns Sarrai Group against grabbing Mumias Sugar land 

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President William Ruto has warned private investors against grabbing Mumias Sugar Company land, saying it belongs to the people of Kakamega. The high Court last month found Sarrai Group of Uganda and its directors in contempt of court for continuing operations at Mumias Sugar after their controversial lease was cancelled last year.

Speaking during Sunday service at Christ Church Cathedral, Kakamega County, on 18th June, President Ruto said the land cannot be taken by individuals out to make  money out it. Ruto further said the 15,000-acre piece of land must be used to benefit the people of Mumias and promised to revive the sugar miller.

“I came here in December and said I’ll sort out Mumias Sugar woes. It was not a joke; it is in our manifesto. We will deal with the Mumias Sugar issue once and for all,” the President said.

The Head of State also stated that government had spent up to Ksh5 billion to revive the sugar miller in the past, but nothing came out of it. “The government spent up to Ksh5 billion in the past to revive this factory but nothing happened. This time around, we must get it right. I have instructed the ministry concerned and I’ve taken a proposal to the Cabinet to sort out the mess at Mumias Sugar,” Mr Ruto said.

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The President said the Cabinet will discuss the revival of Mumias Sugar with a view to securing land and make it profitable for both the county and sugarcane farmers.  In December last year, the President threatened to evict Sarrai Group from Mumias since they had not done anything to turn around the miller.

“The government will clear all outstanding debts of the miller and bring in a new investor under an agreement that he will be remitting Ksh100 million monthly to the County Government of Kakamega to improve on standards of education, health and improve the road network,” he said.

President Ruto said many investors were willing to work with his administration to take over Mumias and improve the sugar sector in the country.  He regretted that while hundreds of the local youth were starving for job opportunities, and yet Mumias Sugar was in a position to address the issue.

The Uganda-based Sarrai Group had been awarded a 20-year lease to operate the troubled miller but it was later cancelled.  In his ruling on 14th April, 2022, Justice Mabeya said if the lowest lease amount of Ksh5.8 billion by Sarrai Group was accepted, the sugar miller would never bounce back to profit.

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He said the amount was not even sufficient to settle the debt owed, pay cane farmers and resume the company’s operations. Tumaz and Tumaz, a company associated with US-based business tycoon Julius Mwale, emerged the top bidder with Ksh27.6 billion for a 20-year lease in the Mumias Sugar bidding process which had attracted a total of eight bidders.

“The receiver manager-cum-administrator was seriously conflicted in awarding the lease to Sarrai Group. The lease should have been awarded to a company with financial muscle to bring the company back to life,” Justice Mabaya said.

In his ruling, Mr Mabeya added: “I do not understand why he disregarded the highest bidders.”

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Bill Yaura is a Correspondent for Business Today. He can be reached on email: [email protected]
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