Coffee firm’s managers must tell Kenyans what happened to mill

By: PHILIP OCHIENG

Protracted disappearance of a whole solid commodity is a phenomenon that I would give my eyes to see.

And, though I have never seen a coffee mill, I imagine it is pretty big.

If so, it must take a concert of many individuals — including important insiders — for a gargantuan machine to eventually “disappear” completely as a result of protracted bit-by-bit stripping.

From the Nairobi premises of the historic Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union — according to Nation investigative writer John Kamau on Friday — Africa’s largest coffee mill has eventually been reduced to nothing.

What John called “vandals” have “cut up” the contraption into little bits which they have sold as scrap metal.

Western European and North American coffee importers have always minted money by buying our raw coffee at a pittance, then refining and selling the finished product back to us at back-breaking prices.

Clearly, some economic patriot has eventually seen local refinement as one method by which to circumvent this traditional siphoning off of our “cuppas”.

ACT OF TREASON

That is why it must be seen as serious national econo-political sabotage to interfere with such a life-and-death experiment to the extent of causing it to come a cropper.

In some states in Europe itself, economic sabotage is regarded as treason — the politico-military betrayal for which a certain Vidkun Quisling is notorious in Euope’s history books.

In some states, it is not unusual to give such culprits long ropes from which to dangle.

Our own economists rate coffee as Kenya’s most vital export.

To allow any individuals (or groups) to enrich themselves by means of such a crime is to sell to the very devil the whole nation’s own existential umbilical cord.

If it is true — as the Nation story implied — that certain individuals are sabotaging local milling in order to swell their own bank accounts as individuals, it implies that the primary producer, not only of coffee, but of all our other export products — are being systematically fleeced by an international cabal with our own middlemen and women as the bridgeheads.

But the question is this. How is it possible for any company as experienced as the Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union — an organisation much older than the Republic of Kenya and which is supposed to be supervised by a whole member of the Cabinet — how can such an organisation allow any vital equipment it owns to be stripped bare by vandals?

THROUGH INSIDERS

What John’s story implies is that certain insiders are conspiring with certain outsiders to reduce the Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union to a mere skeleton.

Certainly, it is not usual for such a thing to happen to a company except through insiders resolved to enrich themselves, bring the organisation down and spell long-term doom to Kenya’s economy.

Surely, the organisation must be paying good money to a security organisation.

If, nevertheless, the company has been so infiltrated as to compromise its security system, then we are a parlous state.

How is it possible for a criminal or group of criminals to sabotage a company’s system for so long without anybody detecting it?

Hence the question. How, day after day, has anybody found his way to that large machine without anybody noticing him?

How, night after night, has anybody slowly “cut up” the machine into little pieces and walked out of the door with those pieces completely unnoticed by anybody else until it was too late to redeem that machine?

If the Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union’s managers do not answer those questions to the public’s satisfaction, the managers can expect the public to take the matter into its hands and accuse them at least of failure to give adequate security to the public’s property entrusted to the managers’ care.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION