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Jump start Muhoroni, State asked

Noven Owiti @PeopleDailyKe

Leaders have called on the government to bailout struggling Muhoroni Sugar Company to help it leap back to business.

This comes as the sugar miller woes escalated last week after it was closed down for six weeks over what the management attributed to lack of sugarcane to crush.

In a circular dated May 25, joint receivers Fredrick Kebeney and Asa Okoth said the closure was as a result of continued low cane supplies over the past few months.

The circular also directed all factory staff to proceed on six weeks compulsory paid leave.

But local leaders led by area Member of Parliament Onyango K’Oyoo condemned the closure of the miller, saying several livelihoods risked suffering as a result.

K’Oyoo said that Muhoroni was struggling with huge debts mainly occasioned by unpaid taxes and salary arrears.

“Thousands of residents whose livelihoods directly depended on the sugar sector are at stake. We are asking the government to urgently come to the aid of the factory,” said K’Oyoo.

“The government should move in to allocate money to facilitate revival of the miller as it did with Mumias and Nzoia,” he said. Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association secretary general Richard Ogendo said the bailout process would save farmers in the sugar belt.

Ogendo said that the lives of more than 23,000 cane farmers drawn from Kisumu and Nandi counties have been impoverished due to the crisis facing the sugar factory, in what he blamed to be incompetent leadership and corruption.

Farmers held demonstrations at the factory demanding its reopening. Led by the Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Muhoroni branch chairman Charles Anyumba they said the closure had caught them by surprise as there was no proper justification for that cause.

They urged the government to institute a forensic audit to unearth the alleged graft at Muhoroni Company.

“We are calling upon the government to come out and clearly state why the factory was shut down. It is a fallacy to believe what the management is telling us that there are maintenance services going on at the facility. This is just a cover-up of massive corruption in the company,” said Anyumba.

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