Kebs on spot over continued closure of Kwale sugar firm

Sunday October 06 2019

Cane harvesting in at Kiscol in Kwale County. Kebs has been given a 14-day ultimatum to give results of sugar samples it took at the factory during a multi-agency crackdown on contraband sugar. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has been given a 14-day ultimatum to give results of sugar samples it took at Kwale International Sugar Company (Kiscol) during a multi-agency crackdown on contraband sugar.

The Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, led by Kieni MP Kanini Kega, noted that Kebs had failed to retake the tests even after being ordered by a court.

Following the shutdown of the firm by the multiagency team, Kiscol got a reprieve after the Mombasa High Court quashed the team’s request to destroy the seized sugar, compelling Kebs to do tests of the samples again. But the court order was not heeded to.


Mr Kega said Kebs should take the blame for refusing to do the tests by disobeying the court, thereby resulting to the sugar firm making losses.

"We are shocked to learn that Kebs even disobeyed a court order and this may force the government to pay a lot of money because of negligence by some individuals in the various government departments," he said during an inspection tour of the factory on Saturday.


The tour sought to ensure the stored sugar, alleged to be contraband, had not been tampered with.


He further called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to disband the multi-agency team that comprises officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, saying it has outlived its mandate and usefulness.

"The multi-agency team as currently constituted has outlived its mandate and usefulness for now. Each agency can operate on their own and they will be held liable on individual basis," he said.

He said currently, the multi-agency team has totally failed because it cannot make decisions and has made the closed companies run into financial constraints.


"In my honest opinion there is negligence [by] the team because they have not been able to offer leadership," he said, urging the President to disband the entire team so that each agency operates independently.

Mr Kega assured Kenyans and investors that his committee will be there to protect them so that contraband goods do not enter into the country.

The firm's General Manager Pamela Ogada said they have not been able to process any sugar for almost 15 months after their facility was cordoned off by the multiagency team on June 25, 2018.


Ms Ogada said before the closure of the firm, Kebs had taken samples of its sugar on November 16, 2017 and March 27, 2018 and certified it as compliant with set standards.

But she wondered why 8,995 bags of sugar, each weighing 50kgs, were locked up in their warehouse, affecting the company’s operations.

"It has been very painful for us as a company because almost 5,118 tons of sugar were locked up for unknown reasons," she said.

The sugar will expire in two months before, thus increasing the company's financial woes.

Ms Ogada told the committee that the company does not import sugar and urged the government to support local industries in order to achieve the Big Four agenda.

"It is one of the upcoming industries and we really need government support for us to grow," she pleaded.