Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
A workers union representing employees in the sugar industry is now calling for an urgent meeting with Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri over the woes bedevilling the sugar sector.
The union also asked the government stop arbitrary issuance of licences to private sugar companies.
Kenya Sugar Plantation Workers Union (KUSPAW) says the arbitrary issuance of the licences has resulted into indiscriminate mushrooming of sugar companies that do not have any idea of how to grow and obtain canes for raw materials.
The body also wants the government to address cane poaching which it claimed has become the most dangerous threat to the survival of the industry.
Further, it wants the so-called restructuring and privatisation of the sugar companies to be embarked on a clear and transparent manner where both levels of government will be fully involved.
“The union, the national and county government should not play a cat and mouse games as this has been the greatest undoing as the county governments always feels that the national government was playing tricks on them,” the union warned.
It claimed that the frequent pronouncements by government on financial assistance is not working nor is it being taken seriously by the mushrooming companies and thus should be re-looked into and proper, clear transparent mode of support be devised.
In a statement KUSPAW general secretary Francis Wangara expressed disappointment over what he said was the casual manner in which the government was addressing the sugar woes in the country.
Wangara claimed that hundreds of workers had not earned their salaries for 10 months from sugar companies such as Mumias, Muhoroni, Chemelil, and Nzoia in the full knowledge of the government and nothing tangible has been forthcoming.
“Time and again we as a union have asked the government to stop its game of musical chairs and address itself to the following six main items that if addressed, the sugar industry will be back on track,” he said.
Wangara further regretted that sugar barons and companies are involved in massive importation of sugar in the country and this has flooded the local market at the expense of local sugar.