The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation Workers has cautioned politicians from sugar cane growing areas against attempts to derail privatization of State owned Sugar Factories.
The Union’s Secretary General, Francis Wangara said the sugar industry in the country was on its death bed and privatization was the only way to resuscitate it.
Wangara said the privatization program which was set to be concluded by August this year to beat the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) deadline was behind schedule due to dissenting views fronted by political leaders.
The sector, he warned, was set for tough times if the August 2018 deadline is not met and called for sober deliberations on the matter.
Some of the demands especially from newly elected leaders, he said, were retrogressive since deliberations on the privatization started many years ago where their predecessors were engaged.
These companies need a lot of money to fix new equipment while others like Miwani need to be newly structured and this can only be done through privatization, he maintained.
Speaking to the media in Kisumu on Thursday, Wangara said the fear surrounding the privatization was unfounded since farmers and workers shall also be given a chance to buy shares from the factories.
The County governments are also free to chip in and buy shares on behalf of the farmers so as to create a sense of ownership, he said.
This, he observed shall scale up sugar production in the country at the same time enhance competition for Kenyan sugar within the trading bloc.
I urge politicians, stakeholders and sugar industries to make sure that they privatize the companies so that they are not caught unawares, Wangara said.
Last week, a meeting that brought together political leaders from 13 counties from the Lake Region bloc and attended by former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Willy Bett ended in disagreement after they called for more time to consult.
The leaders demanded that the County governments own the land where the factories sit and therefore must be the principal shareholders.
Others vouched for allocation of funds to purchase new equipment for the factories for them to be able to crush cane to full capacity in order to attract good bids upon privatization.
If we sell these factories as they are, we are not going to get value for money because the equipment is old and obsolete, said Kisumu Deputy Governor, Dr. Mathew Owili at the meeting.
Source: Kenya News Agency