Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o now blames the closure of a private miller in the region on unfair competition by unnamed rivals and "sugar barons".
The county chief's remarks followed a move by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to shut down the distillery and paper mill of Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries Limited over alleged pollution.
The miller was accused of discharging effluent into River Kibos, which drains into Lake Victoria.
A July 31 directive by Environment and Lands court judge Stephen Kibunja affected the operations of Kibos Sugar, Kibos Distillers Limited and Kibos Power Limited.
Justice Kibunjia declared Kibos' industry licence unconstitutional and illegal and said provisions of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act were contravened.
But Governor Nyong'o said, “The ruling is an unfair judgement influenced by sugar barons whose aim is to have a monopoly on sugar supply in the region."
The governor has also lined an unnamed person in the western region to the matter and accused this person of eyeing cane from nuclear farms in Kisumu.
“Kibos remains the only functioning miller in this region, where local farmers take their produce. He wants it to stall while his factory in western continues to operate. We will not allow him to succeed in this scheme,” said the governor.
He added that Kibos was the only hope as the government worked on reviving millers such as Chemelil, Muhoroni and Miwani.
Regarding the rights of cane farmers, the governor said he had been leading the push, and that the sugar task force will help address the many problems in the sector.
“We finished the report and the Council of Governors chairman, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, forwarded the report to the Agriculture CS who later handed it to the President. We are now waiting for directions,” he said.
He spoke in Miwani on Monday during the burial of Paul Ogoda, who was the brother of former Kisumu senator candidate Ochola Ogoda.
The governor's sentiments came months after he acknowledged that Kibos had been having difficulties handling its waste.
At that time, he noted that the continued dumping of toxic waste into the river put residents and livestock in danger.
In the ruling, the judge gave Kibos 120 days to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies and submit the report to Nema for approval and issuance of licences.
Should the company fail to obtain the EIA licences in that period, structures will be demolished so as to restore the environment to its original status.
The court further authorised the three petitioners, Nema and Kisumu to appoint an auctioneer to carry out the restoration and recover the costs from Kibos.
The court noted that failure, neglect and refusal by Nema and the county to stop the activities of the sugar miller, thereby allowing to to continue degrading the environment, will be in contravention of their constitutional duty to the petitioners and residents of the affected area.
The petition was filed by Benson Adega, Erick Ochieng and Bether Opiyo, who raised concerns that Kibos' operations denied residents the right right to a clean and healthy environment as guaranteed by Articles 42 and 43 of the Constitution.