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Suspected arsonists torch Mumias Sugar cane

Wednesday January 8 2020

Mumias Sugar Company

The entrance to Mumias Sugar Company. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BENSON AMADALA
By BENSON AMADALA
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Suspected arsonists set on fire a section of cane fields belonging to the troubled Mumias Sugar Company, currently under receivership.

A management official said three acres of cane in two separate fields had been destroyed in the incident reported on Tuesday.

Mumias West sub-county police commander Peter Katam said the blaze was put out by firefighting teams and members of the public.

The fires was reported on fields F54 and F56 at the nucleus estate.

“The incident has been reported to us and we are carrying out investigations to establish who are behind it. The fire destroyed a section of sugarcane farms but quick action helped contain the blaze from spreading to other farms,” he said.

The fire outbreak threatens to disrupt plans by the receiver manager, Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao, to kick-start milling operations in the next two months.

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Currently, there are plans to start ethanol production before resuming milling operations.

The miller has been sourcing bagasse from private sugar factories in the region in preparation for ethanol production.

Mumias Head of Human Resources John Shiundu said there were nearly 5,000 tonnes of cane ranging from 24-27 months old in the nucleus farms.

The miller says a deal has been struck with the management of Busia Sugar Company to have the cane harvested and generate some revenue, which will be ploughed into kick starting milling operations at the factory.

“The decision to sell the cane to Busia Sugar Company was reached to avert losses due to fire incidents by arsonists. Our plan is to have the cane harvested and generate about Sh20 million which will help fund our operations,” said Mr Shiundu.

Last year, the miller reportedly lost 8,040 tonnes of cane worth nearly Sh30 million to arson after unknown people set the cane fields on fire.